The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


David Thacker

Powerful Men


The first I heard of JFK was junior high.

I said junior high. As we waited for the O. J. Simpson verdict

our teacher said something about remembering this

like she remembered

the day Kennedy died. There goes the Bronco


drifting in the long angle lens again.


I long thought it was Kennedy’s politics

that kept his acronym from our dinner table,

but his name became the name of a right hook

landing below my mother’s eye.


A man punches his daughter

and his wife blames the assassination

of a president.


I’m sorry, Mr. Simpson, I sometimes wish

you picked the ambivalent ending

of suicide

and avoided trial.


I’m sorry, Mr. President, that I missed even second-hand the hype

so many since keep saying wafted on your smile

and the sorrow after. I’m sorry whenever the Bronco


shuttles onto memory’s reel

you’re always riding shotgun.


None of this is fair and in any other head

the disproportion’s laughable, moon and pebble.


But I put you in this poem in honor of my mother

also in the Bronco always

—she’s by the back window with a compact mirror

blaming herself, and my grandparents watch

their California landscape pass.


Sirs, I apologize. Soon I’ll have

a daughter, and this hole in history like the ozoneless spot

exposing the planet like a fontanel

may drift over at least one more time.




DAVID THACKER is a PhD candidate in poetry at Florida State University and holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Idaho. A recipient of the Fredrick Manfred Award from the Western Literature Association, a Pushcart nominee, and a finalist for the Berkshire Prize and the Levis Prize, his poems have appeared in Best New Poets 2015, Ploughshares, Plume, Subtropics, The Colorado Review and elsewhere.



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