Power is an aphrodisiac
beyond sex, inflaming the minds
of arrogant, driven, limited
people, fellow humans, ablaze
with visions of personal grandeur.
And it is their ambition
more than their ability, certainly
more than their humanity,
which drives such people on;
in their pride and in their ignorance
they turn their backs on love
and thus become our leaders.
They may need us in their rise
to power, our willing subjection
to seductive language, our atavistic
response to the call for war:
each querulous generation
forgets the blessings of peace.
And the restless young, bored,
hemmed in, respond to adventure,
to the lure of the world; but modern war
is no adventure, no cavalry charges
in beautiful uniforms, but rather
industrial murder with high
explosives, so that bits of your son .... 25
(or daughter, as the case may be)
come home in clandestine sealed boxes,
flag-draped, secretly shipped to funerals,
to grieving communities of parents and friends,
which the Leader never attends.
Idealism and anger crop up
with every second or third generation;
and we have seen, so often have
we seen, that courage is not
a sustainable commodity, among
the young or anyone else.
We compromise. We make allowances.
We don't want to get thrown in prison.
We don't want to lose our precious jobs.
When times are scary, people
get scared: a sure sign is when they
murmur about family responsibilities
in the same way that a divorced woman
will settle for the least bad choice
to help her raise her kids, to give
some semblance of love and respect:
it's not what she would have wished for
as a girl, but it's better than nothing.
The squalid "arrangements" of the past
have been tinkered with, not changed, .... 50
the old inequalities remain: they squat,
like giant dull-eyed toads, as heavy
as the weight of the pyramids,
darkening our hopes and aspirations.
And so it is with a gasp of sheer
astonishment (!!) that we respond
to the brave and articulate few
who stand up against this ugliness,
this arrogance, this injustice.
We admire them, but are secretly
appalled: Good God, they are just
Asking For It! No good deed
will ever go unpunished; and we,
the children of a cynical age,
somewhere at the back of our minds,
deep in our quaking, mendacious hearts,
don't trust them either: we have been fooled
so many times before, too many times!
We live with lies: you can't fool me again!
Yes, they can. Lies roll over us.
We may laugh and we may call it bullshit,
but the horrible, the terrible, the insidious
thing, is that we simply no longer know,
with confidence, how to filter lies from truth.
Words no longer have the meanings .... 75
ascribed to them by the dictionary.
We are constantly
seeking a new vocabulary of truth,
a stripped-down version
of eternal, not necessarily religious
verities, in which
words that have been abused
like cringing helpless children,
like ten-dollar whores,
can be regained, words like
all these words we mouth and repeat
must come back to their original meanings,
cease acting as smokescreens, cease
disguising boardroom agendas.
Because this is what is happening.
This is the world we live in.
Clinically employed, clouds of rhetoric
befog the minds of a dumbed-down, malleable,
flag-waving public, unhealthily overfed.
But the rich have always played games with us,
we, the people once described
as free independent citizens. ........... 101