A Poet's Take On 'Alternative Facts'

Jan 27, 2017

Poet Allison Joseph

Like many people, poet Allison Joseph watched last Saturday's press conference with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Spicer shared statistics that questioned the news media’s reporting on the size of the president’s inaugural audience.

Spicer's numbers were easily debunked.

Then, on Sunday, White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway appeared on Meet the Press to assert that Spicer’s falsehoods were simply “alternative facts.”

"As soon as I heard the phrase, I kept cracking jokes via my Facebook page," Joseph says. "I kept on cracking jokes until they reached critical mass."

Joseph started converting the jokes into lines of a poem she titled "Alternative Facts."

You can hear Joseph read this poem in the audio link above, or read it here:

Alternative Facts

sounds like the name of one of those early 90s Britpop bands

I loved so much, as in "I liked that new Oasis album,

but the one by Alternative Facts is better!"

I guess losing should now be known as “alternative winning.”

Infidelity shall henceforth be known as “alternative dating.”

The raccoons that tore a hole in my house's roof?

Alternative pets!

That bill didn't get paid? I'm not delinquent—

I just paid it in alternative money.

Cake shall henceforth be known as “alternative celery.”

Students, don't be upset if you get an F. It's just an alternative A.

This chocolate donut I'm eating? Alternative apple.

It's not belly fat-‐it's my alternative six‐pack.

The New York Knicks will be the alternative

winners of the 2017 NBA Championship.

That dead tree in my backyard? Alternative gardening.

You can call it sleep—I prefer the term "alternative exercise.”

Jelly stains and milk mustache=alternative makeup.

When it comes to tennis, I'm an alternative Serena.

Gymnastics, I'm an alternative Simone.

That concrete over there=alternative grass.

That pile of dirty unwashed exercise clothing: alternative compost.

How many of us are here because our parents practiced

“alternative virginity?” Doritos=alternative carrots.

When I was a young flat‐chested teenager, I had alternative plastic surgery.

I put socks in my bra.

This alternative water sure does make me giggle my inhibitions away....

But I'm not ignoring you—I'm just paying alternative attention.

Allison Joseph is an English professor at Southern Illinois University - Carbondale. She's the author of several books, most recently Double Identity.  An Illinois Arts Council Fellow, she's Editor in Chief of Crab Orchard Review. She also directs the Young Writers Workshop, an annual summer residential creative writing workshop for high school writers.