Paul Ryan

Matthew Zapruder

Paul Ryan
your name so
New Testament
righteous purity
with American
white immigrant
self pity
it must have
been invented
in some brushed
metallic building
the exact color
of despair
you could
walk right past
and never see
where sad
think all day
about the most
efficient way
to eat light
they know
we need it
it could be used
to power
every black box
every machine
the ghosts
don’t want
to eat the light
but they must
they work
for immense demons
Paul Ryan
you do too
many years ago
they filled you
with carefully
harvested breath
of emptied factories
then grew
your house
its pretend love
and grim commotion
and the slow
drip of ideology
your blood
until you
actually thought
your struggles
and success
were real
so your job
was to put
on your red
hat and go
into the world
to tell us what is
is by nature
just and only vast
forces are real
and even a slight
compassion flicker
is just a selfish
desire to seem
and maybe you’re right
there can be
no more
pure water
we are defeated
and must
accept immortal
but I don’t know
it seems to me
the dark triumph
that animates
your tragic corpse
drinks hate
so I will not
drink it
Paul Ryan
I love you
I kiss
your dry lips
to defeat you

Matthew Zapruder is the author of four collections of poetry, as well as the recently released Why Poetry. His poetry, essays, and translations have appeared in publications including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Tin House, and The Believer. An associate professor in the Saint Mary’s College of California MFA program and English department, he is also editor at large at Wave Books and, from 2016 to 2017, was the editor of the poetry page of the New York Times Magazine. He lives in Oakland, California, with his wife and son. This poem appears in Tin House #73: True Crime.