UPRISING

                                                                                                                       PASSAGES 25

 

Now Johnson would go up to join the great simulacra of men,
      Hitler and Stalin, to work his fame
      with planes roaring out from Guam over Asia,
      all America become a sea of toiling men
      stirrd at his will, which would be a bloated thing,
      drawing from the underbelly of the nation
      such blood and dreams as swell the idiot psyche
      out of its courses into an elemental thing
      until his name stinks with burning meat and heapt honors

And men wake to see that they are used like things
      spent in a great potlatch, this Texas barbecue
      of Asia, Africa, and all the Americas,

And the professional military behind him, thinking
      to use him as they thought to use Hitler
      without losing control of their business of war,

But the mania, the ravening eagle ofAmerica
      as Lawrence saw him “bird of men that are masters,
      lifting the rabbit-blood of the myriads up into…”
      into something terrible, gone beyond bounds, or
As Blake saw Americain figures of fire and blood raging,
      … in what image? the ominous roar in the air,
the omnipotent wings, the all-American boy in the cockpit
      loosing his flow of napalm, below in the jungles
      “any life at all or sign of life” his target, drawing now
      not with crayons in his secret room
the burning of homes and the torture of mothers and fathers and
      children,
      their hair a-flame, screaming in agony, but
in the line of duty, for the might and enduring fame
      of Johnson, for the victory of American will over its victims,
      releasing his store of destruction over the enemy,
in terror and hatred of all communal things, of communion,
      of communism  –

has raised from the private rooms of small-town bosses and business-
   men,
from the council chambers of the gangs that run the great cities,
      swollen with the votes of millions,
from the fearful hearts of good people in the suburbs turning the
      savory meat over the charcoal burners and heaping their barbecue
      plates with more than they can eat,
from the closed meeting-rooms of regents of universities and sessions
      of profiteers

 -back of the scene: the atomic stockpile; the vials of synthesized
diseases eager biologists have developt over half a century dreaming
 of the bodies of mothers and fathers and children and hated rivals
 swollen with new plagues, measles grown enormous, influenzas
 perfected; and the gasses of despair, confusion of the senses, mania,
 inducing terror of the universe, coma, existential wounds, that
 chemist we have met at cocktail parties, passt daily and with a
 happy “Good Day” on the way to classes or work, have workt to
 make war too terrible for men to wage-

 raised this secret entity of America’s hatred ofEurope, of Africa, of
Asia,
The deep hatred for the old world that had driven generations of
 America out of itself,
And for the alien world, the new world about him, that might have
  been Paradise
but was before his eyes already cleard back in a holocaust of burning
  Indians, trees and grasslands,
reduced to his real estate, his projects of exploitation and profitable
wastes,

this specter that in the beginning Adams and Jefferson feard and knew
would corrupt the very body of the nation
      and all our sense of our common humanity,
this black bile of old evils arisen anew,
takes over the vanity of Johnson;
and the very glint of Satan’s eyes from the pit of the hell of
   America’s unacknowledged, unrepented crimes that I saw in
    Goldwater’s eyes
now shines from the eyes of the President
     in the swollen head of the nation.

 

Robert Duncan


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