“Some of the respectable types in modern America may find themselves in the lowest circles of Dante’s hell. He regarded sins of fraud as worse than sins of violence because they were deliberate and cold-blooded, sins against the mind and soul of man; so he reserved his more horrible punishments for flatterers, fortune-tellers, hypocrites, evil counselors, et cetera. This company — somewhere below the murderers—would now be swelled by advertisers and publicity men.” Uses of the Past by Herbert J. Muller, copyright 1952, footnote pg. 251.
They’re taking us over the cliff again. They’re re-amping up the wars and they just put the next “credit crunch” onto the taxpayer’s backs in their last cromnibus (crimnibus?) bill/pact. It’s all a disaster, of course, the one way ratchet that always turns away from the human and the environment as it turns toward profit pollution. No wonder the ever escalating crises advance with this inexorable robotic regularity. There used to be plausible deniability but now they don’t even bother to pretend. They’ve been caught so many times they just say their crimes are legal because they have their own lawyers to write them notes to tell us so. I can just see it. It spins down like a paper helicopter from way out over the chain link fence of the aqueduct over the river. You wouldn’t last 4 minutes in the frigid water charging beneath the whirling helix of the fragile paper craft, whirring white blown toward the post-industrial foam stirred up by another of the huge storms. Post-modern. Post-republic. Post-legal. Post-privacy. Post-personal. Life lived to someone else’s quarterly statement. Torture reports that become debates run by the torturers. Mysterious provisions in ominous omnibus criminbus that takes away pensions and allows banks to speculate with the people’s money and geometrically increase the money in our politics when democracy was already drowning in the black waters of the flood.
I am picked up and carried downstream by the Movement until I try to chant “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” and get shot in the heart. I come back to the Common to find the traces of the last labyrinth and discover the way to make it bright once again. And the C.I.A. heckler replaces our missing sound system with the drama of conflict. And even later as I tell the story of Moses to my grandsons in three parts Hollywood turns the super shy stutterer into a super epic. It looks like a tsunami overtakes the Pharoah’s chariots. I will spend a long night being torn to shreds by clicking chopsticks in the hands of a horde of cannibal capitalist colonials. I will make the walk over the aqueduct and send my whirligig out over the water and make its coursing currents way down and across dark water. Who will part the waters for our fragile forms? Where is Moses’ staff to allow the waters to come back together on Pharoah’s swift army? Just in time for the oil glut to roil the global derivative markets. Just in time for the next credit crunch. Oh, here he come again as they once said to that crass Comedia Capitaino on the run from the fight, never wrong always right in the middle of the wrong bedroom night. Dick Cheney. “Cheany” as Chris Matthews says, and can his lawyer surrogate be far behind and sure enough there’s John Yoo, too, the torture memo man to write themselves an excuse for everything they wanted to do which they were already doing anyway. John “Point of Attack” Yoo who writes whole books to get rid of the international law that could hold him accountable for his (and Cheney’s) crimes. But he’s just a cog in the machine that Cheney built, the most powerful vice-president in the history of the U.S. who started his career in Nixon’s Watergate white house and honed his skills as Jerry Ford’s chief of staff running a “damage limiting operation” with his old mentor Donald Rumsfeld at Defense (really War) to cover up S.E. Asian war crimes and deadly domestic “dirty tricks” like the death of the inventor of the original “rainbow coalition” Fred Hampton shot in Chicago in 1969.
And when will we cross over into the promised land? When will we see the walls of Jericho fall? When will we see the end of Jericho Rd. in Washington, D.C. When will we part the waters and pass on through, too? When will Watergate and Iran-contra, COINTELPRO and Operation Condor, the Gulf Wars I, II, III or is it IV end? When will we part the waters and find ourselves in the promised land? One way ratchet finally sprung. Dick Cheney finally hung (out to dry). The lawyer cat’s paw finally barred from teaching constitutional law. That whirligig twirls on the coursing currents toward the foam on the dark storm water at the head waters of the Charles. Oh, how can it hurt this much and still be so beautiful. The All One Thing Misery Machine, Consummate Corporate Caesar who never conflicts with Corporate Governance. 24/7 365 and ¼ Bottom Line. Check all the boxes, follow the whole compiled list. An All One Never Truth to Power. An All One Never Ever Evil Thing. (Torture is not cruel and unusual punishment because it is interrogation. Clever so clever, hunh?) Spin, spin, spin. Spin it out and spin it in. (Fraud is not fraud because you can’t prove intent.) It’s a spin world, a spin world. An All One Thing Spin World.
James Van Looy has been a fixture in Boston’s poetry venues since the 1970s. He is a member of Cosmic Spelunker Theater and has run poetry workshops for Boston area homeless people at Pine Street Inn and St. Francis House since 1992. Today marks his one year anniversary as a poet columnist for Oddball Magazine.