AN AMERICAN APOCALYPSE
By Michael O'McCarthy
A fearful post-apocalyptic vision came to me
As I heard the unbearable wailing moaning screaming
Dying gasping choking wheezing
Death rattles of these last days…
Though confused by its source
The world wind carrying them
Came it seemed at once from
The East ---The Middle-East ---
The North East --- Jerusalem –
Tel Aviv – The Gaza --- The West Bank .
A despairing Sudan and simultaneously out of
The exploding fire raining crashing
Crushing broken buildings of the City.
It was a plaintive cry from the home
Of every human being alive:
But the specter rose
From beneath the ash and rubble,
From alongside the dead and
Decimated tower residents and
Uniformed Rescuers and
Where lay the body of three decades of change…
We were revolutionaries in a world pleading for freedom.
From the bondage of repression and death
From under the crushing factory assembly line
Iron tank treads of Colonialism, Neo-colonialism,
Capitalism, Imperialism, State Totalitarianism…
And from their mutant heirs,
Classism and Genocide.
In Polispeak they reconfigured us into Savages,
Terrorists, Urban Terrorists, Radicals,
Rabble-rousers, Traitors and Cowards …
It became a polyglot of never ending Media-speak…
An anti-advertising campaign that pounded
The ahistorical truth into the infantile
Cute pink and blue and grown up beige minds
Of America the Beautiful, I Pledge Allegiance to …
My Country ‘Tis of Thee...God Bless America…
We became morgue candidates
Awaiting execution in the ghettoes,
The prisons and in the jungles of
A Bolivia known as the 3rd world.
That they now confuse us with a portrait of
An omnipotent twisted zealot Bin Laden
As ‘The Middle Eastern Assassin,’
‘The Mohammed Che,’
Is yet another lie that slips from
The same serpentine tongues
That wove the images of Woodstock
Into the crazed guitar ramblings of Manson,
The peace songs of Lennon
Into the cast iron directives of Lenin,
The flowered garb of the millions stopping war
Into the Red collared tunics of Stalin.
If Dan Quayle was no Jack Kennedy
Dubya Bush no FDR, much less Lincolnesque,
Osama Bin Laden is no Che Guevara.
It is a lie sent wagging wetly into
The ears of a stupored Good Morning America and
Another live five hours of Prime time Cutey
Katie Couric bobbing up and down under
The patriarch chin of that other Bush …
Captioned as rare network fare.
I fear that the doves of peace and liberty
Will be soon be clutched in
Bush the Jr.’s mixed metaphoric rawhide hands
Balled to whip terrorism in a
Saturday afternoon Silver Spoon Saloon brawl or
Fought with two fisted pistollos
Smoking the desperadoes out'a their caves or
Gunning them down Dead or Alive
At the Dubya B Corral or as proclaimed,
Dressed in Christendom’s Red Crossed Armor,
George the Second
Will lead the Crusade,
Swiping off barbarian heads with a
Wild Silver winged sword as the town folk cheer
Falwellian-Limbaughesque rants of
“Homos, Fags, Lesbos, Liberals, Peaceniks,
Baby Murderers, Commies, Towel Heads,
Foreigners! Repent or die.”
As I heard someone on Wall Street or
In Washington say, “Oil is gold,”
I could hear background heavy shovels
Digging in the ash and rubble Of Wall Street
As the conniving conspire in hallowed halls to send
Drilling rigs over the virgin tundra for Alaskan gold
To feed the monstrous machines
Of petroleum profit.
Then came the distinct stomping feet of
The hundreds of thousands of speech Police carrying
White crosses salvaged from the march to Pretoria
Bearing down upon us.
As I thought:
If the nations of Reborn Islam are as
The new “Yellow Peril” of Hearst-speak,
The “Evil Empire” of Reagan-speak,
Would not the Hero-Patriot Judas Iscariot be,
Bribed as our new antiterrorist recruits shall be,
And the Terrorists, Jesus and his Cell of Twelve, be?
Allowing of course, for the striking similarity
Between Jesus the Palestinian Jew
And Arafat the Palestinian Arab …
More than Jeffrey Hunter,
The blue eyed Caucasian
Matinee idol be.
As I mused,
Out of the corporate video box came
The picture of a National mourning
As the governing body gathered
In prayer and angst and
A radio in Blazin Bill’s redneck BRBQ
Broadcast a twangy white siren song of
Salvation found in Amazing Grace
That snaked its way around
The rocker of this democratic cradle.
Against that background came
The clicking of the multi-million-khaki panted,
Denim shirt and silk tied corporate keyboard clones
Rewriting this past even as the bulldozers uncovered
The broken and dismembered dead.
The sound entwined with backhoes
Gouging out a deep burial hole
For those of us who dissent as
The Right White Christians Soldiers
Go Marching As To War,
Gathering at the corners of Main Street and Broad
Where I can see the fluttering of Old Glory
From myriad automobiles go by.
But the Stars are gone and white crosses lean
With the weight of a new strange fruit as
The Battle Hymn of the Republic continues sung
In national ceremony and
The pickups pull in and out of daily jobs.
Fed X runs its common routes and
Joe and Joan earn their next Yankee dollar as
An ad for an all new, all white cleansing cream
Interrupts in which Ms. America promises it will do
What Ellis Island failed to do as
We are segue-wayed to
The returning Network news:
“We now go to Connie or Ted or Pat or
Bill or Raoul or Mee Ling at ‘Ground Zero’ or,
“Back to you Dan,” who has lost his youth
And his memories of being beaten down
To Daley’s floor In Chicago and
In the park across the Street and
In the rice paddies of Indochina and
Just down the street in the courtroom
Where freedom was bound, gagged and
Found guilty …
As in solemn hymn America continues to
Twirl in a Dance Of Death begun in a
Plaza in Dallas, on a bloody Floor in LA,
On a balcony in Memphis, a ballroom in Harlem,
And in murders in offices of black protest in
Every city in the nation
For which no gavel ever rang.
In loss I remember the report of
Another fiery burning exploding death,
“Oh the humanity,” the very human reporter cried,
Anguished as any person could be,
As the fire burst into death in the Hindenburg.
And I realize that the new squeaky clean astringent
Is being used to clean more than our complexions,
And the new strange fruit hanging from the alabaster
Crosses will be us.
I remember when we fished and
Swam in clear and flowing rivers
Under sweet and painless rain and a
Falling snow of unlittered white.
We hunted and grew our food and
Children with mothers and sisters
Who lent guidance to our ways.
No more or less pure in our thoughts and
Wars with our neighbor nations,
We yet lived more in harmony
With our two legged friends and foes and
Among the Deer, the Eagle, Fox and Crow.
We ate or wore what we killed and
Only killed what we needed or
That which threatened us,
Until the Europeans came.
To the South amongst the Caribs
Those of Spain and France
Cut off our lips and noses;
Hung us like jerky and burned us alive,
Raped and enslaved our women and children,
As they chanted prayers to their God
Of human blood and flesh.
To the East the pinched-white-faced
British ones in drab black came.
They ate our turkey and cranberries,
Roasted our corn and learned our ways
That they would survive while they defamed
Our beliefs, our culture and
Bred diseases amongst us like
Maggots in wounds and took our land and
Drove us to war against our brothers and sisters.
In our majestic smoking mountain nation
We spoke and wrote our tongue;
Signed our names and
Guided our lives by voice and vote.
They came as farmers and friends and
Could often do no more than mark their X.
Then as they now say 'Oil,'
Someone shouted 'Gold' and
They herded us like livestock,
Hunted us down like the wild wolf and
Drove us on a Trail of Tears
A thousand miles long as we died
Thousands and thousands more.
There were no boxcars for us to ride:
We died step by step, child by child,
Parent by grandparent, tear by tear,
Until we were abandoned for a
Soulless life in the flat void of Oklahoma.
In the West they brought The Great Whooping Cough and
The Pox, a terror that invaded our homes.
It came on their breaths and in the woolen blankets
Given us for warmth now that they had
Massacred the Buffalo.
They came brandishing their
Silver Custer Swords and
Iron cannon and locomotive and
Shaking their black leather covered Jesus words
Like a slithering swarm of pale faced snakes,
Twin tongues wagging about the peace
Of a New Paradise while spitting out
The names Geronimo, Natchez Pierce, Sitting Bull
With the same blood wet spittle curses of
'Savage,' 'Heathen,' 'Devil,' 'Evil Ones' while
Singing their prayers to Mary, Joseph and Paul,
The missionary Baptist.
In the end our free spirits were caged.
We stumbled in alcoholic searches
For an escape from corner post to corner post
In the invisible barbed wire concentration camps
They called reservations.
And today their sons and daughters
Dare use the term terror
As If it were newly created
To be used against them.