September 2021

Back to Issue 10

At Michael Wolff’s Party to Celebrate Fire and Fury

By Philip Neilsen

No one is behaving badly and the currency is gossip.

A pod of middle-aged players, buoyant as dolphins,

sip at wine or water, no one really drinking, because

you have to stay sharp in New York, sharp as a tweet,

and everyone is looking pleased just to be here. 

Inigo insists that Hillary Clinton wrongly attributed

to Wilde something that La Rochefoucauld said:

‘Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue.’

But no one makes a fuss about accuracy these days,

no one has time to parse the classics; it’s post-truth,

post-shock-and-awe. The 24 hour news cycle.

The intellectuals can be emotionally illiterate,

jealous of their grip on culture, jealous of so much,

resentful of Wolff’s book, his coup de liber.

None of them thought to just sit around the White House

until people treated them like a worn carpet

or an amiable cushion, a wailing wall in a suit.

Information is control, as Joan Didion said.

How hot the complaints he heard! Heartfelt grievances

against the Donald, but each an aria to Michael’s ear

as he milked the gorgeous snakes of their venom.

It had ‘bestseller’ shouting all over its cover.

Soon there would be expensive vegetarian lunches

and a wardrobe that rippled with seven new suits.  

He hugged his secrets like a bored mistress,

ghosting back to the apartment each night

where one day his cell phone would quiver, 

jingling with movie rights, talk shows,

the kind of insincere warmth that only

a first-time winner or a politician knows.