Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled And now, a poem about James Francos poem about the Inauguration

At the behest of Yahoo News, Pulitzer Prize-winning writers James Tate and Paul Muldoon and blog-prize-almost-winning writer James Franco were commissioned to capture Obama’s historic second inauguration in verse. Instead, Franco hammered out something called “Obama In Asheville,” then donned a stained T-shirt to drone it into his webcam while lying in bed. It contains lines about Tom Cruise and burritos.


At the behest of absolutely no one, I commissioned myself to write a poem about James Franco’s poem.

Chicago, Illinois, is where The Bob Newhart Show takes place
And there are some good pierogi places
F. Scott Fitzgerald didn’t like pierogis
Too drunk
Then dead
To partake of the grand potato dumpling


Carl Sandburg once ordered gingerbread pierogis on a dare, I believe
He is another writer I have heard of
“Tool maker, stacker of wheat, city of the big shoulders”
Are some lines from his poetry that I could quote here
To make it seem as though I am writing a similar poem

Where was I?
Oh right
In Chicago
Writing a poem about James Franco’s poem
That he wrote for Barack Obama
Who probably had a pierogi before
When living in Chicago
Before he became president again

Barack Obama is not James Franco, and clearly
This is one of Barack Obama’s great regrets
As he stands up there, smiling, receiving the burden of history
The People turning their eyes to him
Much as James Franco was asked by Yahoo News
To write a poem about it

Perhaps you were unaware of the connection between Zelda
Fitzgerald’s death in a mental institution
And the inauguration of Barack Obama
And how it might take up at least a few stanzas
Of a poetry assignment?


But Franco knows

“I write confessions and characters, and that sort of thing”
Franco says
Like poetry
And the confession that he had a hard time concentrating on this assignment
When there are so many other people, places, and things to talk about
That James Franco is interested in


Have you ever seen Apocalypse Now?
James Franco’s class at UCLA has; he called them, mid-poem
Ensured that they would put it on the syllabus
Of the class that he is teaching
When he isn't writing poems

Frank calls his friend Franco—sleepy Frank;
Old, sleepy Frank, friend of Franco
Says sleepily, “that my poem was a difficult task”
Petitions the universe, “How to write about a man written about endlessly”
Goes to sleep
Good night, Frank


Franco ponders on Frank, asleep now, and the weight of his task
He goes “to the little burrito place where they know me.”
"Hola Senor Franco! Como estas?"
"Bien. Un burrito grande por favor
Tengo un muy importante poema
Necesito un burrito importante"

Franco eats his burrito, much as Cormac McCarthy probably ate a burrito once
And contemplates the task of writing about Obama so “it’s not just for the converted”
Or just for the last couple of stanzas
Of a rambling, self-indulgent mess


The burrito gives him indigestion
His stomach is embroiled in partisan bickering
“BURRITOBAMA,” Franco writes down
Before scratching it out

But hark, the windows of the soul are illuminated with a dim memory
Of that time Franco actually met Obama once
And so he does have perspective
Worthy of writing a poem about the Inauguration


Christopher Hitchens was there that portentous night, talking of Borges
And in a related story, “We waited in a private room with the likes of Tom Cruise
And Katie Holmes, and Claire Danes”
Who were there for the Correspondents’ Dinner
And also for the living Borges story that is
“James Franco, Author Of Barack Obama”

“He knew me from Spider-Man. I asked him for advice
I was scheduled to give the commencement speech at UCLA
And there were some undergraduate knockers against me.”
And not the “young breasts” kind
That would be a more interesting poem


Then some other stuff happened where Obama said something
But Franco was already thinking of how much he doesn’t want to see Obama beheaded
Like another swearing-in poem someone once wrote
Because Obama isn’t a king and he needs his head
To remember the time he met James Franco

And to perhaps one day see James Franco take on “the role of a lifetime”:
Obama himself; James Francobama
Whom Franco would play as kind and then
“Let the writer put in all the political crap”
Which is a note about his performance
And not to whoever was supposed to finish this poem for him


Because he is busy thinking about playing Obama
Using his “soul”
“I’d win the Academy Award if I just captured that”

Obama didn’t win the Academy Award today.

He was inaugurated.


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