October 12, 2008

What a Rich Pyre!, by Russell Setiz
Being a poem in the style of “Under Which Lyre?” WH Auden’s adieu to WWII, which Norman Podhoretz ought to have read before taking the poet’s name in vain in his epic fantasy, World War IV.


The Bushies at last have quit the field,
The Weekly Standard‘s bloodstains yield
   To seeping showers,
As in their convalescent state
The Neocons associate
   With Thomas Powers


Encamped upon the college plain
Neither Kristol can explain
   What Strauss endorses;
Nor Hanson with Laconic tongue
Shepherd the battle-weary young
   Through Persian courses.


Among the shattered appliances
Of the darker arts and sciences
     They stroll or run,
As those that steeled themselves to slaughter
Aim their laughter at the shorter
     Odes of Frum.


Professors back from Baghdad’s frissons
Resume their proper eruditions,
     Though some regret it;
Although Kevlar can be hot ,
They wore theirs indoors, and will not
     Let you forget it.


So did we all, but Zeus’ decree
About the will-to-disagree
     Is now pandemic,
Ordains all calls to Recht und Ordnung  
Should fall as flat as waterboarding,  
     Though treason’s endemic,


Ares will doze. A worse war
Internecine flares once more
   “€˜Twixt those who”€™ll follow
Cheney all the way
And those who now with qualms obey
     POTUS Apollo.


Brutal like all Olympic games,
Though fought with smiles and Christian names
     And less dramatic,
This dialectic strife between
The Neocons could be foreseen,
     As more fanatic.


What high immortals do in mirth
But amplifies the Beltway’s girth;
     Where a-historic
Antipathy forever gripes
All ages and somatic types,
     ‘Tis sophomoric


To face the future’s darkest hints.
Young J-Pod scarfs another blintz
     As stout as Cortez,
So not to think, and thus turn pale,
On how a target like a whale
      Invites cruel sorties


Though shot towards heaven in the halls
Of Neo-periodicals
     By erstwhile friends,
The tracer fire of small magazines
Often rips through grunt Marines
     As it descends.


So Editors we see today
Can only do their best and pray
        Wars really oughtn”€™t
From Euphrates ever shrink;
Lest someone somewhere pause to think
        It’s not important.


If such would leave the world alone,
Apollo would smile from his throne,
      Fasces and falcons
He loves to rule, has always done it
This lot would be hard pressed to run
      A summit in the Balkans.


For jealous of their godlike dreams,
They persevere in secret schemes
        To rule the heart;
Unable to invent the lyre,
Create with simulated fire
        Official art.


Yet when in one Chicago college,
Truth’s replaced by arcane Knowledge;
   Sense may take offence,
And Democracy’s Nirvana
Pay the price: Hart’s for Obama
   And Buckley Bush repents.


Yet still our arms, we must confess,
At least on Fox show some success,
     Though Islam raves
From Indus to Hormuz, and the news
In lesser New York book reviews
      Is very grave.


Rush Radio hammers all day long
Its over-Whitmanated song
     That does not scan,
With adjectives laid end to end,
Like rolling Oxycontin to commend
     Chicago Man.


Their Policy’s no lyric thing,
Devoid of sport, and love and spring.
     All blood and bluster
In the White House, Spartan bards
Rehash 300 into yards
     Of epic filibuster.


In fake Hermetic uniforms
Behind our battle-line, in swarms
   To warm the fighting,
Neo-existentialists declare
That they forswear complete despair,
   And go on writing.


No matter; they shall be defied
With Aphrodite at our side:
   What though they let
In Intel quite diseased
Zeus willing, honest NIE’s,
   Shall beat them yet.


So in our morale must be our strength.
If we are to behold at length
   Routed Osama’s
Last battalions melt away like fog,
Eschew The Weekly Standard Decalogue,
   Of melodramas:


Do not as the West Wing pleases,
Write not any doctor’s thesis
   On abstinence education,
Whilst electing, thou and thine
To lie, Anne Coulter-like, supine
   Before Administration.


Neither fib to questionnaires
Or quizzes on K-Street affairs,
   Nor in compliance
With statisticians fit
In false knowledge, nor commit
   To deny science.


Thou shall not be on friendly terms
With focus groups and PR firms
Who fear the Muses far too much
To read the Bible for its prose.
Nor, by Jove, make love to those
Who worship such.


Let them live beyond their means
On Tigris water and raw greens.
   If you must choose
Between tickets, follow Reagan’s muse.
Forget Faction. Trust in God,
   And take broad views.


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