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Election Night

A Poem by Dr. Barry Lubetkin


A New York City crowd learns in 2016 that Donald Trump has won

The despair and pain has sharpened now Fueled by a memory of a night turned raw and ugly Oh, how we laughed and danced as the sky darkened We knew so much...we were all so smart. The women especially, who had worked so hard Toasted Hillary with a pride of such depth, I had not seen before The polls were as clear as the champagne that flowed, The orange horror would never (could never) win. And then the numbers spewed from the screen, And we could barely look at the others, Hugs were meaningless, bewilderment and rage competed with shame How could we not have known? And now, the polls seduce us again, And we steel ourselves for the next party. Yes, we will wear masks, but less for protection, And more as amulets against an evil we now fully understand. We have prepared for this night with flashlights so bright As we would for a walk down a dark alley, alone. We have voted early, we have phoned old colleagues in embattled states, We have spurned friends who have shocked us with their ignorance, We arrive armed with resolve...of course Joe will win! “But it may take weeks to decide“ the talking heads warn, Impossible, we think; our guts and brains will implode, A dozen sets of eyes have never gazed so hard at blue and red numbers, We have prevailed, and we are happy and tearful and relieved. But something still feels terribly wrong...there is no concession speech, How did America let a four-year reality horror show go on? And will the host wait patiently for the next season?




Barry Lubetkin, Ph.D. is the co-director and co-founder of the Institute for Behavior Therapy in New York City. He is the author of numerous academic and popular articles, as well as two popular self-help books, Bailing Out and Why Do I Need You to Love Me in Order to Like Myself. The Institute for Behavior Therapy is the oldest private cognitive behavior center in the United States.

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