Alexander had his, Caesar, Darius maybe,
and what we have now is an Empire as well, like ink spilled and spreading,
trumpets, smart uniforms, all that protocol,
and though we hasten to claim it came upon us fortuitously,
it is as undoubted as chicken soup, or the necessity,
as in elementary school, to brush one’s hair before coming down to breakfast.
Glibly journalistic, “This American Empire”, as resounding and strident
and operatic as a clash of cymbals, a recollection of the emperor Julianus,
whose brief dysfunctional imperium was bought
with a corner on North African wheat, one uncanny moment of historic bravado, which led unerringly to the dissolution of the Western Empire.
So we, too, have this whammy in our wherewithal:
puppet-masters; that puppet himself,
dangling as if by strings in the light fantastic, arms undulant, akimbo,
mock-Zeus with thunderbolt, posed for one’s admiration;
and these armies, these armies, said to be irresistible, and everywhere
you look they are flexing their biceps, brachiating like gibbons.
One theory of Rome’s demise was the accumulation of wealth:
big fish eating, land-owners acquiring, generations of gifts to the loyal.
And it seems only yesterday: that this government
has made it easier for a few to own: newspapers, TV;
the satellites above and the oil below.
They are our subsistence,
the ability to feed us whatever information they feel is appropriate.
All which prickles, raises my hackles; blows one away,
as if what we are facing is a bull mastiff.
Back off. Open your eyes, and know:
what’s true is true: At this empire’s zenith
those weapons these soldiers
are consigned in sight of the River Indus;
and like Alexander,
we are neither immune, nor properly inoculated.
We, too, may therefore stumble, or, as did Julianus, run short of the essentials,
the requisite to fend off one’s potential assassins.
Big fish with giant teeth lurk in the murky waters..
So the strong will eat the meek
So also the most powerful swimmers:
Even the dinocephalosaurus is extinct.