This New Leviathan

Southern gentlemen sipped sweet tea
and blithely capered
through those cataclysmic years, flourishing
and feasting on stolen souls
raked up like fallen leaves
to work and turn and feed the soil.
Those feted kings of coal mines and cotton,
tobacco and pine sap, reigned from Florida
to Tennessee and let no mere humanity
set limits or etch a moral line
they dared not cross in their pursuit
of profit and supremacy.
Dark were the days and dark was the shade
that burned, a haunting shibboleth
that told of imprisonment, exploitation,
and death in that confederacy of blood.
The historical stink of it still reeks
to this today with segregation, self-hate
and race itself–a callous crime against us all.
But here we are accepting it, wearing it,
wrapping ourselves in it
like a uniform, and making the fraud a fetish,
fully affirming it with signs and symbols
and ornaments of solidarity. This new Leviathan,
its tentacles casting a vast web of tragedy
and transgression, fragments the universal
and keeps the fragile old strata intact,
dividing to conquer and privileging to persuade.
So we perfect our uniforms
and embrace our symbols to comfort
and protect us in the face of the monster,
but the more we refine and polish,
the more imperfect and onerous
that comfort becomes. We define ourselves
more and more exclusively
by difference in uniform,
and in time we submit, like those before us,
to the endless appetite of ego,
indeed, becoming the monster ourselves
and exploring a self-righteous claim to power
over the lives and bodies of Others.
And now we sit, disciples of modernity,
stretching our tentacles
and ignoring the lessons of history,
content to sip our ice cold drink,
while we wait for the feast to begin.

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