Hail to the Chief: An Inauguration Poem, or a Lament for What Might Have Been
by Tanyo Ravicz
Denali Press

"It's your turn now—the Ascent of Rodham—
You get on top, I’ll take the bottom."

An epic poem may seem a curious device to trace the rise of Bill and Hillary Clinton, ending with her imaginary inauguration as 45th president of the United States. Epic poems conjure Homer’s The Iliad and Dante’s The Divine Comedy, classics expressing deep thoughts and moral consciousness. Epic poems also tickle the mind and ravish the intellect, grant more freedom of imagination than prose, and exaggerate both virtue and vice in a way that teaches, pleases, persuades, stirs, and entertains.

Ravicz, a middle-aged, Mexican-born, Harvard-educated, West Coast author and self-styled “seeker of reality” entertains, moralizes and teaches in admirable style. Drawing heavily on The Starr Report, Ravicz unscrews the twists of Bill and Hillary’s careers. Central is the Clinton-Lewinsky affair, attempted cover-up, and subsequent impeachment, but Hillary’s Benghazi incident is not ignored: “Who won the Vote despite Benghazi/And the opposition Stasi.”

One wishes for an audio version to hear aloud these gems of poetic genius: “And from his tongue the rhetoric of Latin/Rolled silky smooth like panties made of satin.” “But I’m for truth and will not expurgate/These honest chronicles of Interngate.” “To win the votes of Oklahoma/He sells the marriage bill called DOMA.” “Pink panties of soft peau de soie/Containing her, you know, foie gras.” Unique rhymes coax admiring smiles: “gonorrhea/Sharia”; and “music/oosik,” the bone in a mammal’s penis.

Ravicz soundly blots other presidents as well: Harding, Kennedy, Jefferson and more with, “Presidents unknown to me/And unknown to Monogamy.”

Ravicz’s intelligent, funny and educational epic poem about the rise of Bill and Hillary Clinton deliciously combines the political keenness of Milton’s Paradise Lost and the bawdiness of Chaucer’s Wife of Bath. His satirical, well-informed word-whipping renders political history and short-term prognoses amusing, gritty, and sad, and ends with a plea to elevate our thoughts to “The truth, the light, of liberty.”

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