Poetry Sunday: “4:42 p.m. EST,” by Janet Jennings

4:42 p.m. EST

Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” under erasure

It is hereby ordered, due to numerous
deteriorating conditions and civil unrest,
Americans must bear hostile attitudes
toward founding principles,
should not admit violent ideologies,
acts of bigotry, or persecution of those
who practice religions different from their own.
To temporarily reduce investigative agencies
I hereby suspend the information needed
pursuant to subsection (d).
I hereby proclaim, until such time as I
have determined, that changes have been made
in the national interest.
This order shall be construed to impair.
This order shall be implemented.
This order does not create any right or benefit
or equity (f)or Other.


First published in Spillway 25, summer 2017.


Janet Jennings’s poetry and flash fiction have appeared in Agni Online, Nimrod, Shenandoah, Spillway, TriQuarterly, and Verse Daily, among others. Traces in Water, a poetry chapbook, was published in 2010. She lives in San Anselmo, California, with her husband and twin daughters.


Poet’s Note

At 4:42 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, on January 27 of this year, our current president signed an executive order referred to by some as the “Muslim ban.” Like many, I was deeply upset by this xenophobic opening salvo of his administration. After printing out and reading the seven-page document, I decided to put the executive order under erasure—stripping out the obfuscating language to reveal its true intent, with all of its nationalist, authoritarian tone. This is, after all, about erasure of a group of people from our shores, immigrants and visitors from predominantly Muslim countries. I did leave, as a reminder of the original, the ghost of bureaucratic language in line 10. This erasure poem reduces the original down to a clarifying 98 words.

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