Civilization

A poem.

That civilization may not sink,
Its great battle lost,
Quiet the dog, tether the pony
To a distant post.
Our master Caesar is in the tent
Where the maps are spread,
His eyes fixed upon nothing,
A hand upon his head.

--W.B. Yeats, “Long-Legged Fly”
 

Groaning toward his eightieth year, the Free
World’s leader, on this pleasant August day,
Dozes calmly under an apple tree,
Dreaming of that episode with Corn Pop,
Of children’s fragrant hair, banana splits,
White sails skimming over Delaware Bay.
-- No, actually, he’s at a photo op
In the White House, opposite the premier
Of Israel, and -- ah -- he’s fallen asleep,
His head bowed, his shoulders slumped: the shoulders
Upon which our civilization sits. 

His aides, seized by a now-familiar fear,
Rustle through their thick, important folders.
But what’s to be done? Look beyond the seas
To every continent, and there you’ll find
Cruisers and aircraft carriers, tanks and jeeps,
Awaiting orders from this man whose eyes
Are shut in slumber; squadrons of GIs
Prepared, at his command, to sacrifice
Their lives for the liberty of mankind;
Bombers poised to fly when he gives the nod.
But him? He’s nodded off; he’s flying blind;
And all the mighty forces must stand down,
For it’s that addled head that wears the crown:
Long as he’s in the Oval Office, odd
Though it sounds, he’s the closest thing to God;
Long as America still rules the waves
(And he, with his rank company of knaves,
Foolishly and brazenly waives the rules),
All civilization rests upon one mind.

So when you vote, think what you’re voting for.
It shouldn’t matter if a candidate
For president’s presentable and kind
(Or seems to be), or comes off as a boor,
Or if that individual’s maligned
By media boobs: dismiss such chatter
From your mind. And no, it shouldn’t matter
Who has more estrogen or melanin.
You’re not picking a morning talk-show host
Or someone you can call your friends and boast
Of having voted for because he’s gay.
For once, please put such childish thoughts away
And think like an adult, a citizen
Of the Republic that transmogrified
Ideas of what a human life could be,
The land for which your forebears fought and died.
For God’s sake, do the homework. Do the math.
Learn to recognize a sociopath.
Learn what it means to be custodian
Of your hard-won freedom, of your nation,
Of your -- your children’s -- civilization.

Just this once, instead of relentlessly
Finding fault with all the Founding Founders,
Why don’t you attempt to be worthy of
Them -- to show respect, if you can’t show love --
And to be worthy of the wondrous land
They brought into being? You have a hand,
When you cast your vote, in shaping its fate,
In deciding whether or not our great
American experiment founders
Or survives. So choose as your head of state
Someone who loves your country, first of all,
And who understands how to wield power
In its service; who can be a bright ball
Of fire in that country’s darkest hour;
Who knows good from evil, knows foe from friend,
And knows when duty tells him not to bend;
And who, unlike the man who tends to doze
In the middle of the day, and who weeps
Inexplicably at a lectern, knows
To cry in private, and who barely sleeps.

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