“Would that the Roman people had but one neck,” said the mad emperor Caligula, “that I might chop it through.” In Arranging Deck Chairs on the Titanic, Mike Wilson takes on our own mad would-be emperor, a man “sharpening the hatchet / for our collective suicide.” Wilson, a poet of keen intelligence, guides us through this upside-down world where “Antarctica is hotter than L.A.” and “all the answers on Jeopardy are lies.” Here is the MAGA-hatted, assault-rifle toting cult that drinks, not the Kool-Aid but the Clorox. Here is God the barfly “ordering a round for everyone / but without instructions for an Ark.” A government as terrifyingly absurd as Trump’s might seem to defy the poet, but Wilson distills our anger with skill and wit. Arranging deck chairs on the Titanic might be the futile gesture of those who refuse to see impending disaster, but it might also be an assertion of human dignity in the face of madness.   ~Sherry Chandler


Arranging Deck Chairs on the Titanic