Of all lies, the worst is The truth will set you free.
I don’t think truth unshackled my father.
Truth paid his moving expenses, set him up
in his grandmother’s house with his new wife ―
his former secretary ― and two children he didn’t know
how to talk to. Truth banished him
from branch location and operations,
from belonging to the fraternity of money,
and in his exile, he wandered by motorcycle
from flea market to gun show.
In twenty-five years since, I don’t think truth
has, like a magician, swept doves from under
its handkerchiefs, or doubled my father’s joints
to free him from the straitjacket and cuffs.
He collects badges. Detectives, marshals,
the old silver stars. He still believes in law
and order, even as the television he keeps muted
shows him images of protestors, of the officers
who discharged weapons into unarmed teens.
Has it brought him any comfort to know
where the money came from, whose pockets
it now lines? Has it brought him any comfort
to speak that truth to regulators? Sometimes
in my dreams, I see the Keating Five seated
in a circle, cigars and good Scotch, in a dim room.
They laugh about dark money, having taken
so much out in the open, and John Glenn says,
I could still go back into space, and John McCain says,
Who knows? Maybe I’ll just run for President,
and then they both do, but before ―
my father shuffles in, his expression neutral,
a white cloth draped over his arm,
puts their empties on his tray, and asks
if there’s anything else he can do for them.
Ross White is the author of two chapbooks, How We Came Upon the Colony and The Polite Society. He serves as the poetry editor of Four Way Review and the director of Bull City Press. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, Best New Poets 2012, Poetry Daily, New England Review, Nimrod, The Southern Review, Tin House, and others. A recipient of scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, he currently teaches poetry writing and grammar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.