Sunday and just like the old days I’m not going anywhere, sirens go by outside in the distance but I am
quiet within and take the whole day to sleep and think and do some working out as I work within
and it’s hard to believe as always and I do believe more than ever. Fortunately I’ve watched book T.V. since
we got satellite several years ago so I realize oh, my God they’re actually building up a case for empire.
Still it’s hard to believe but nonetheless there’s no doubt about it, it’s actually what they are really doing.
I think of John at the weekly protest on the corner of the Common and his banner which reads “Quit the
Empire” but American imperialists have always resisted the EMPIRE tag — why we’re not an EMPIRE.
We might have bases her and there and well, everywhere but we do not have colonies, well, there are a
few territories like well, Puerto Rico, the Marianas, and Guam and Midway and Diego Garcia and oh,
yeah, Guantanomo, but that’s just incidental, no the U.S. doesn’t take territory however much it may
have seemed like we were taking over Iraq and, of course, Afghanistan, but that’s only so that “al Qaeda”
doesn’t reconstitute itself there and resurrect Osama bin Laden from the bottom of the Persian Gulf
(where the special ops dumped him?). So there it is on Book T.V. — as violent as EMPIRE is tribal society
is worse they now know and actually it’s EMPIRE that protects minority rights (tell it to the Assyrians,
tell it to the Mongol horde, tell it to Shalmaneser V or Genghis Khan). Wars are awful but only hegemony
can assert the rule of law and maintain sufficient force to keep it. Then markets function and goods flow.
I’m watching this and can hardly believe it’s real. These are the people who look down their nose at auto-
didacts like me for gross generalizations. These are the they who have sneered at Peaceniks like me for
describing the U.S. as an imperial power. Now, suddenly, there’s no other way to live. And, gee. The
president is a black guy who they’ve just spent five years denouncing as a Muslim anti-colonialist like his
Kenyan Dad. Just another anomaly that proves the saving power of EMPIRE. Of course, don’t mention
that most of these EMPIRES lasted only a few decades and that the ones like Rome which lasted centuries
on pure brute power left centuries long dark ages in their wake. In short don’t mention any actual empire
at all. Nor the deaths of at least 38 pro-Russian demonstrators in a fire set by a “right sector” mob in a
union hall in Odessa that the pro-Russian demonstrators had been occupying for many days. There is
video of people jumping from the roof and being beaten by pro-Kiev government forces who started the
fire with Molotov cocktails. Ukraine has been center stage for at least three weeks on U.S. news but the
only coverage of this atrocity I have seen was on Al Jazeera. It apparently doesn’t fit the narrative of
Putin’s the bad guy to show pro-Russian demonstrators being incinerated and beaten to death when they
jump for their lives. Meanwhile it has now been documented that there are dozens of C.I.A. and private
contractor U.S. operatives in Kiev and C.I.A. director (former drone director) Brennan himself made a
visit with V.P. Biden in tow. A few hours after the incineration Obama appeared with his German
counterpart Angela Merkel and said he approved of Kiev’s efforts to retake E. Ukraine and remove the
pro-Russian demonstrators. Of course, no one asked him if he approved of the “right sector” atrocity in
Odessa because no corporate U.S. media have mentioned the atrocity in Odessa. There were (of course)
warnings before all this happened that U.S. meddling might provoke Putin to take over parts of Ukraine
and that civil war might ensue. You might find mention of this on Al Jazeera but nowhere else except (of
course) Democracy Now where those warnings were first broadcast in America. And so, Sunday over,
today On Democracy Now I watched an Al Jazeera journalist tell the story of how he was detained in Iraq
at multiple sites and then at Abu Ghraib in 2004 where just because he was an Al Jazeera journalist he
was beaten , humiliated, and interrogated by torture. It confirmed the way in which torture was official
policy in 2004 just as I had indeed realized (and written) back then. Yet even as time after time this
systemic abuse has been revealed and proven in ever more explicit detail I am no closer to seeing our
media much less our judicial system allow that truth to be told. It literally sickens me to have to admit it.
It make me feel like a helpless victim, a helpless victim of EMPIRE I guess. Deep in the Jonah’s Whale of


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. His work appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.