Prometheus

This is an intermission from the story in progress that’s taken up the last several days’ entries.  A certain recent news story cries out for attention, which I’ll pay now, before it dies out, striking while the irony’s hot.  The story about the trip to the Korean water park will resume tomorrow.  Thank you for your patience.

Prometheus*

for Bradley Manning

Truth is a fire

that burns the agents

of darkness.  Jealously

guarded by the gods,

the fire the hero stole

left him chained to a rock

by those who would not

abide one who refused

to yield to their command:

obey or die.  An eagle soared

every day towards him

and helped himself 

to his liver, knowing

it would grow back

in time for the hungry predator

to rip it out again tomorrow

like the teeth of the sea

chewing holes in the beach.

Gliding away through the gaping

wound of the smog-strangled sky,

he belched proudly and sighed,

relieved to be a warrior

and glad to know there would

never be a shortage of people

to eat in a world where someone

was always dumb enough

to try to set things right.

 

*I owe the concept for this poem to Mr. Fish, the trenchant satirical cartoonist who works for truthdig.com.  His picture, which accompanies a story written by his colleague Chris Hedges entitled “The Death of Journalism,” portrays Julian Assange instead of Bradley Manning as Prometheus, having his liver devoured by the ever-accommodating eagle.  The poem could just as easily refer to Assange–or to Edward Snowden, for that matter–for taking the heat for their intrepid if controversial actions.  Since Manning is the one who’s taking the fall at the moment, I decided to dedicate the poem to him exclusively.  I hope he’s granted clemency and doesn’t have to waste the rest of his life in prison.  He’s a good man who deserves a break, not to mention the Nobel Peace Prize (remember the old days when it was given to people like Martin Luther King instead of the likes of Henry Kissinger and Barack Obama?).

Those who read Chris Hedges (and if you don’t, please check him out), may have felt a sense of inevitability upon hearing Manning’s verdict.  I guess that’s just the kind of world we live in.  The brave few who go out of their way to risk everything in order to benefit the rest of us more often than not pay the ultimate price for their actions–Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Robert Kennedy, John Lennon, Anwar Sadat, Yitzak Rabin, Patrice Lumumba, Mohandas Gandhi, Jesus F. Christ, JFK, etc.–while the profligate, self-interested propagators of wanton destruction and murder–Henry Kissinger, Dick Cheney, Idi Amin, Augusto Pinochet, Josef Stalin, Mao Zedong, Adolf Hitler, Billy Joel, former Exxon-Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, and Donald Trump** live in conditions of royal comfort, waited on by toadies, and bask in the mainstream media’s fawning adulation until such time as they shuffle off their mortal coils like so many venomous snakes grown not just long in the tooth but toothless.

Even their funerals serve as opportunities for posthumous self-glorification; the ever-humming propaganda machine is not only well-oiled, but well-heeled.

So let’s take a moment to appreciate the men and women with the character needed to sacrifice themselves on the altar of empire.  Together with Martin Luther King, on one hand we can light a candle instead of cursing the darkness; and on the other, with Canadian artist Jenny Holzer, we can dourly concur with the following truism:

“Disgust is the appropriate reaction to most situations.”

**Just so I don’t get sued for libel, the inclusion of Billy Joel and Donald Trump on a list of notorious mass-murderers was meant as a joke.  Rex Tillerson should take it as a compliment that his name’s been added to the list.  He might not have killed anyone directly, but he certainly has profited spectacularly from a blood-drenched industry, not that most of us aren’t likewise culpable for his company’s obscene success, if only for the fact that so many of us drive cars.

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