Abby Caplin: The Day America Killed Itself



by Abby Caplin



The day America killed itself,

I watched reruns of What’s My Line,

where Dorothy, Bennet, Martin,

and Arlene sat blindfolded, trying to decide

who the mystery guest was.

I stared at the Worchestershire sauce

in the fridge thinking,

Of course it has expired. I bought it

years ago, a carbon copy

of petroleum in a bottle.


When America killed itself, the talkers

on TV couldn’t figure what happened

to all their fine-tuning,

all the polls that said


But I’ll tell you what happened—

the guy said

the election was rigged,


didn’t say how

exactly, but he let the message hang


like a dagger thrown

between a woman’s legs, and then

he won.

I believe him.

I believe

he rigged it all right.

That’s why you can’t find

reruns of The $64,000 Question,

though Joyce Brothers knew the answer

anyway, knew Archie knocked out

Bobo in the third round.


Now I’m running to the safety deposit box,

got gold rings sewn up

in the lining

of a Patagonia jacket.

Here comes the coup—

sucking on pipelines,

drinking America’s

black blood,

sharpening teeth

on timber, shitting tar.


Billionaires and their daughters

scooping caviar, drowning

Bluefin tuna

in Heinz,

who’ve been give the keys

to the House, courts,

billionaires whose black-booted

drones can show up


and ring your doorbell.



About this poem:

I wrote this poem to express the fear many of us have been feeling. But I don’t want to react from a place of fear. I am inspired and strengthened by the many people coming forward and pledging their resistance to Trumpian demagoguery, with its increased threat to the environment and survival of the planet, women, people of color, health care, the Press, Muslims, Jews, First Nations, LGBTQ communities, science, and simple truth. May we all find one another and stand together against oppression.


Abby Caplin’s poems have appeared in Adanna, Big Muddy, The Binnacle, Burningword, Common Ground Review, Crack the Spine, Forge, The Healing Muse, OxMag, Poetica, The Scream Online, TSR: The Southampton Review, Third Wednesday, Tiger’s Eye, Tikkun, and Willow Review. Her poem “Still Arguing with Old Synagogue” was a finalist for the 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Award, and she is an award recipient of the San Francisco Poets Eleven 2016, judged by Jack Hirschman. She is a physician and practices Mind-Body medicine in San Francisco. Her website is

 Editor’s note: If you wish to become engaged in building a powerful alternative to Trumpism, please join our Network of Spiritual Progressives at, and/or donate to Tikkun magazine at, and/or become part of our training of activists to have the skills necessary to win away from the Trump forces those who have gone there out of real pain, not out of hate, and who will soon discover that the Trump policies are making their world worse, not better (info about the training currenlty taking place:   and for dates for the next training, contact


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