COME HOME, DONALD - Alastair McIntosh

COME HOME, DONALD - Alastair McIntosh

(Photo above of abandoned settlement looking down towards where Donald Trump’s maternal ancestors were evicted on the Isle of Lewis.)

Donald Trump was a controversial name in his mother’s home nation, Scotland, long before he ran for president. Early in the new millennium he curried political favor to impose a golf course on a pristine zone of coastal ecology that had been protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. When local residents objected, his people employed heavy handed tactics to try and push them out of their homes. My outrage at the way an old woman was targeted, Molly Forbes, who lived alone with her budgerigar, drove me to write this poem drawing from quotations in the press and from the Bible. I see it as an act of liberation theology. An approach that, as the poem concludes, is as much concerned for the full humanization and liberation of the oppressor as it is for the oppressed.

But there is a postscript to all of this. Once The Donald ran for president, journalists and genealogists started digging up his Scottish ancestry. It turned out that his mother, Mary Anne Macleod, had been born eight miles from the village where I grew up on the Isle of Lewis. She emigrated from the island at a time of great suffering. One in five of the island’s young men had died in the Great War. That was followed by the Spanish Flu, a tuberculosis outbreak that was probably brought back from the war and which especially killed young people, and then mass emigration of the young. Out of an island of about 15,000 people, in 1923 alone one thousand of the young left for America. Most of them were men. Who were the women to marry? Little wonder that Mary Anne took the opportunity to follow her sister to America where she met and married Frederick Christ Trump, leaving the rest to become history.

Why did so many of the young of her generation emigrate? This is where the psychohistory of the Trump family gets really interesting. As I have shown (with the help of a Foreword by Brian D. McLaren) in the American edition of my recent book, Poacher’s Pilgrimage: an Island Journey, Mary Anne’s own maternal ancestors, like many other islanders, had been forced from their ancestral lands by rapacious landlords. The oppressed so easily become the oppressor, and that is part of the poorly understood trauma of our times and the reason why I wrote about the spiritual journey in Poacher’s.

When I was a youth, I used to be a pony boy on the deer cull in the south-east of our island. Recently I went back, and in the photograph with this article, there I am, with the keeper, looking down across the abandoned lands that Donald’s maternal ancestors had once farmed. As you wander about, you stumble upon the ruins of their homesteads in the heather. It’s all so very sad, and all so very important that when we talk about “Scots-Irish” culture amongst white people in America, we understand some of the suffering behind it. The same goes for many other ethnic identities, but The Donald is the one from my island, and he’s the one that’s standing larger than life in many people’s lives today. It hones an even sharper edge to my poem. This is about deep healing for us all.

Alastair McIntosh is a Scottish writer, academic, and activist.

O Donald Trump, Woe Donald Trump

(First published by Bella Caledonia in November 2011)

Donald Trump is an American billionaire born of an exiled Hebridean mother. He plans to build “the world’s greatest golf course” and five hundred executive houses on a pristine beach near Aberdeen, previously viewed as a protected land. This bàrdachd arose from his attempts to evict an elderly woman who stands in his way. It is not an art poem. It is a bardic declamation coming out of a tradition that speaks social truth direct to power - hot, rough, and on the hoof.   

O Donald Trump

It was my own old mother’s taxi driver

on the Isle of Lewis

who said he lives next 

to your old mother’s house

on the Isle of Lewis

That made me think

how close we are 

being separated by

just two mothers

and one Stornoway taxi

And got me thinking

of your visit to the Island 

back in June 08

to your family croft home

Inside of which you stepped

(according to reports)

for fully ninety-eight seconds

And told the press

(with reference to

 your true relations

which is to say

the Trump International Golf Links)

yes, told the press:

“I think this land is special. 

I think Scotland is special, 

and I wanted to do something special 

for my mother”

To which the neighbours said:

 “We never saw the likes of this in our lives” 

 “He’s had a lifetime to come here so why is he doing it now?”

 “It’s a PR stunt …” 

… because, as a former councillor elaborated

the place was being  “… cynically manipulated”

and even your own cousin said

with classic Island understatement 

(not passed on in your genetic strand):

“We’re happy to see him 

although the visit

is very brief.”

O Donald Trump

it is not the press before you now

nor Island dignitaries nor even me …

I am but the scribe

moved by the land itself 

that as you said “is special”

to raise my pen on its behalf

The Island too has got a voice

(though not a PR machine)

The Island too has got a view

upon the ways of such a son as you

The Island knows about your wealth

and what you did to get it

and hears you speak of Barron Trump

your own ten month wee son

paraded down  the Walk of Fame 

at Hollywood – you said:

“He’s strong, he’s smart, he’s tough, he’s vicious, he’s violent: 

all of the ingredients you need to be an entrepreneur!”

We would have thought it in jest 

were it not for the blood trail

of real estate … (who pays rent

and who collects?)

and the casinos …

(whose lives are spun on that roulette

both during hours, and after?)

The Trump World Tower

The Trump Star Tower

The Trump Elite Tower

The Trump Palace

The Trump Taj Mahal 

and Trump Marina

far from the chip shops of Stornoway Harbour

And your name golden everywhere 

hi-rise windows glittering 

“with Viracon’s 24-karat gold-coated glass”

not from you “cold shoulder gold” 

but, a Liquid Gold Bodywrap 

with a 24 Karat Gold Facial

at the Trump Tower Spa

which according to publicity

(that surely speaks the Truth as much as you)

soothes away the wrinkles

by immersing crinkled body parts, I quote

“in pure gold minerals and Egyptian chamomile”

and “muscle soothing massage with oils 

infused with golden particles,” and: 

“to top off the opulent treatment 

guests are dusted in shimmering,

 iridescent gold powder” 

… thereby offering

“… discerning spa guests 

the ultimate combination 

of optimal skin care 

and guiltless decadence.”

O Donald Trump

of Midras hubris, Golden Calf and Babel Towers 

who with your trumped up politicians 

(a disappointment to our Scottish soil)

stand bunkered, as the prophets say

“convicted by their convictions”

or the deficit thereof

It is not I that prosecute 

but the Island - of your mother and my youth

whose skeins of calcium and phosphorous 

were knitted through our fledgling frames

from out of herring bones and sheep and milk and oats

You stand accused, Donald Trump

… Stand up before the Court!

the Island’s court

… of forcing golden facials

on nature’s long protected countenance

at Menie Links by Aberdeen

to make for tourist golf a course 

with calls for airport fairways stretched

to fly the face of global climate change 

To trumpet up a way of life 

this world no longer can sustain

(for the Earth can no longer afford the rich) 

To force your way bulldozered in 

by forcing others out

although you hid the might of clout 

and spun the spin which said:

“The Trump Organisation 

has no Compulsory Purchase Order powers.”

You stand accused, Donald Trump

of seeking to evict

eighty-six year old Molly Forbes 

and her son, and the budgie perched on her shoulder

who says about her place:

“I don’t want to sell it.

It is my paradise.

I want to live in it. 

Why should some of those top knobs

in Government with their crooked ways

of claiming money

get legal aid

but I can’t?

I think I can’t get any

because I’m too honest.”

To which your sugared growlers say:

“It is regrettable that an elderly woman

Has been used to front 

this frivolous court action.

There are consequences 

for filing a baseless claim

and her son and lawyers

should pay the expenses.”

Oh really, Donald? 


to seek protection from the law 

of human rights 

so not to be cleared out

from her own wee but and ben

for your greed, not need

with legal costs of up to 50k

more than she is maybe worth

but not as much as principle

(in case you fail to understand)

O, Donald Trump! 

Woe, Donald Trump 

… Woe … woe … woe …

There are “consequences” indeed

for what you do

The Island from within

sees the likes of you

The Island names, unmasks, engages with

the likes of you 

who take its name in vain against the grain

The Island has a context 

into which to place the likes of you

I quote, again

from the Island’s own … publicity:

“Woe to you, scribes … hypocrites!”

For ye devour widows’ houses… 

For ye are like unto whitened sepulchres, 

which indeed appear beautiful outward, 

but are within full of dead men’s bones, 

and of all uncleanness.”

Woe to you, Donald Trump:

“Woe unto them that add house to house, 

that join field to field, until there is no more room, 

and that ye dwell yourselves alone 

in the midst of the land!”

Woe to you, Donald Trump, for:

“The Lord preserveth the strangers; 

he relieveth the fatherless and widow: 

but the way of the wicked 

he turneth upside down.”

Woe, woe and three times, woe!

O, Donald Trump …

be not mistaken

The Island does not cast a curse

does not return the shameful act with evil eye

Sufficient that it just …

withdraws its blessing 

T’is you who stand yourself accursed

and drains the flow of life …

the artery cut that curls and tightens 

dreadful back upon itself

The Island stands not for a curse 

but only to forgive

to draw back in its Prodigals 

“not seven times” they say

“but seventy times seven times”

You told the world you loved this land

and wished your mother’s memory 

(though naming your development 

we have perforce observed

not after Mary Ann MacLeod 

but after … Mr Trump)

Don’t make for her a bunker …

… from the plunder of another woman’s world

… from beauty’s desecration of true nature free and wild

… from climate change vainglorious in “guiltless decadence”

Come home, Donald …

Come home in your mind!

Come home to gentle honest folks! 

Come home to nature’s guileless way!

without greed

without force

without tears 

Renounce the rootless sands of capital and pride!

Renounce the decorated corpse of suppurating wealth!

Renounce those “vicious … violent” so-called winning ways!

… Come home, o Donald Trump, come home to this new start

       … and build a golden Tower to be your greatest work of living art

             … that rises from the fairway as the meteoric human heart

Transmuted … Transfigured … Transubstantiated 

Come home, Donald …

just come on home

A RIFF OF LOVE - Greg Jarrell

A RIFF OF LOVE - Greg Jarrell

YOUR STORY IS NOT OVER - Nancy Hastings Sehested