Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ice Cream vs. Combat

Ah, life is good so long as a man can, unharried, enjoy a wholesome pleasure like licking an ice cream cone in public (yesterday in Midtown, as seen at left in photo by Austin Petersen).  And even age and death seem trifles when we hear of a fifty-seven year-old Eddie Munster finding true love with a fan from decades prior, or a seventy-eight year-old riding a rollercoaster ninety times in one day.

But to hear true strife turned into beauty, listen to the war poems of Gregg Glory, who was kind enough to recite them last week before our big Debate at Lolita Bar about imperialism — in which imperialism won, by the way (but more on imperialism’s pros and cons tomorrow, if I’m not hung over from drunkenly riding hotel elevators).


By Gregg Glory

Saddam’s boys, fed lion’s hearts
And bad philosophy, were sent into the rape room
Under P.S. 106, Baghdad,
Same ground that saw a Ninevah arise
Same wide-eyed folks that made
A few of civilization’s unending things,
Set golden bird upon a ruby bough to sing.

“Not in my name”
shall we set, we
The people of Hamilton and Adams
Not for such names, nor for our own,
Forgotten since our civics’ texts
Have gone to rot as assuredly as Rome’s poems
Burned by Visigoths to watch
“Vandal Idols” on a commandeered TV
in the fumbled coliseum.

“Not in my name”
shall these be set free.
Not by us, the people of Lincoln and Paine,
Not with our bullets of inalienable rights,
Nor our hatred of tyrants,
Not by our strength, our success,
Not by our sure hand in a selfish world,
Not by our open palm
shall these be set free.

These same who crouched in a shit pit
Or were shot for sheer sport.
Power plus a few roaring lies
And arabist France is your firm friend,
Scoring oil off of marsh arabs’ misery,
Breathing grievance and flattering tyrants
alone in their ego-lovely
palaces of misapplied plaster,
walls caulked with exquisite fear,
real memories of friends, father
or sister suddenly dragged out at 1 AM
and shoved into the State’s Mercedes
and returned in ribbons,
eyeless, legless, earless, hymenless,
or not at all….
The fear of faces too used to fear,
Same faces Stalin made in Russian clay
Holding his neighbors’ feet to the fire
Or cinching raw hands in unforgiving wire.
“Not in my name”
shall these be made free.

Same Saddam, god-damn,
Who put a hit out on a retired president
And called Kuwait his “13th Province,”
Shattering desert quietude with lies,
Living detached as a NYT op-ed writer
From the eternal verities.

Same Saddam, god-damn,
Who paid suicide bombers’ families to live on quince
And retire to palm-shaded villas
After sending Sonny on to see Allah;
Same suiciders who put a two-fer hole
In New York’s presumptuous skyline:
Front teeth fell out square with 3,000 lives
As jerks in Jersey City cheered
And Palestinians rah-rahed in parade,
Making Gaza glamorous once again,
full of light, full of hope, full of song,
As know-nothing Americans knew, just knew
It was all our fault anyway;
Not even giving gashed Jihadis
credit for their kill, not really.

Same Saddam, god-damn,
…. I can’t go on without respite, without tonic,
A cool cloth for my lips, hot cotton
Laid on my ears, much abused,
Carbon darkness for my eyes, my eyes
That see in seemless verity
One nation, under God,
Riddled with raconteurs of the Apocalypse
Who never missed a payment on their Saab.

Allah, Allah, Allah,
Forgive these few, these free,
These blind men holding diamonds
Who think they’re weighted with bricks;
Forgive these few their compassionate disaster
Who see sorrow in a tyrant’s swat,
How sad his up-bringing must have been;
Forgive these few their huddled asses
Who buy the pap and propaganda
of the feckless press.

Allah, Allah, Allah,
Sear me with second-sight enough to see
What comes of free people with no will to be free;
Who shrinky-dink and containerize the globe
After pacifying panzered fascists,
Who set the Technicolor sights of Hollywood
in every human eye
And take air-conditioned flights
To the winds’ four corners
And hear half-good English spoken there
From some kid wearing Adidas
And yet do not believe
Fallujah’s on their subway stop
or Kabul is come to Washington.

Forgive these few, O Allah.

Allah, Allah, Allah,
Walla walla, walla

The Niggard Heralds

By Gregg Glory

The inverted bodies hang themselves,
Interpenetrated, peeled
For us to write riven songs upon their skins!

Sullied sufferers hang themselves from a glass cross
200 floors toward heaven.
Bitter Christs!
Loudly you fly from flames to the asphalt,
Absent-minded of your mission:
Your religion has not yet arisen.

We may yet decide to be extinguished.
The gossipy mendacity of the Left
Aligning with bin Ladens
To win the miniaturized
Bickerfest with the neighbor;  neighbor
Same as them, hung from the cross the same.

Orange flares
Line the flyway to infinity
Or incineration.

Here’s a brave man, indifferent to kicks,
Somber under DC’s browning ferns,
Ready to kill the willful killers
And treat his countrymen, confused
As the winter-wind infused weathervane
Like a drunken beloved.


Alexandra said...

Living detached as a NYT op-ed writer

From the eternal verities.

Oh, snap!

Todd Seavey said...

And thank you, Alexandra, for your own reading at the debate of Rudyard Kipling’s “White Man’s Burden,” the poem that inspired the debate (and I know you hang with skeptics and libertarians more than with racist world-conquerors, in case anyone’s frightened):


Jacob T. Levy said...

And thank goodness the freedom-hating conservative Leon Kass never got his way, and you’re still free to eat an ice cream cone in public as Nature and Nature’s God intended.