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2009

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Manhole
Terry Provost

When it comes to constructing
casus belli,
ex nihilo,
it helps if you have not so much a
man as a
manhole,
for president. 
A man-
hole, you know,
like the thing a manhole-cover
covers.  Because, when you have a
permanent absence at the
center of political power,
it becomes so much easier to manufacture a
war-hole. 

Not the sort that makes war
disappear, but one that
devours lives, and
dreams, and
memories, and
homes, and
children, and
mothers, andfathersandloversandhistory, and
truth.
A war hole from
ex post facto,
casus belli,
ex nihilo.

Ex nihilo;
from nothing.
There used to be
(now nothing)
a nightclub in Cleveland called
Babylon
Agogo.  Babylon, agogo. 
And now we agogo to make
Babylon,
a gone gone.  The 24/7 televised
Blitzkrieg from Iraq beams like a
Roman-holiday,
beams like a day of
recreational slaughter at the Coliseum,
beams like a lucid dream
of empire, where the world's
future has been
ghostwritten.  Ghostwritten,
like a presidential speech
about a
new
American
century.

Well,
perhaps it has.

All the while the Tory press narrates a patriotic
hagiography of demolition, a
hagiography of munitions, a
hagiography of precision high tech
head-raking, teeth-shattering, eyeball-slicing,
infant-decapitating
explosions.

Except of course that in a spasm of pious
Comstockery, the bit about the heads raked,
and the teeth shattered, and the eyeballs
sliced and the infants decapi-
tated – except that bit’s been
expunged, to
orchestrate the glorious hosanna choruses of
mechanized
massacre.

We launch rockets,
and no one dies; we
fire missiles, and
no one dies;
cluster bombs, and
no one dies.
Fighter jets scramble,
and no one dies.
Grenade launcher machine guns,
and no one dies.  Depleted uranium
artillery rounds, and no one dies.

All of those savagely beautiful weapons,
all of those voluptuously gorgeous weapons,
all of those sexy-as-a-Victoria's-secret-runway-model weapons,
those enormously profitable,
gloriously profitable
weapons, they'd just be
ruined if you included all the
gory details of liberated
intestines, the sloppy stickiness of liberated
blood in a ditch, congealing by the tens of gallons, or the small
pyramid piles of liberated limbs amputated
from children – no that sort of thing just ruins the
high-gloss high-tech tone
of the weapons-system brochures.
Bad for morale, bad for the
marketing campaign
when it's time to roll out the next war:
adds a degree of
ambiguity to the cost side of the
cost benefit analysis in favor
of advanced and ever advancing
atrocity.  And the beneficiaries
don't like that.

Better to tout the orphaned infant
cradled in the GI medic's hands
than the mangled scraps of what used to be
his mother
dispatched ever so
efficiently by a
million dollars worth of
high explosives that couldn't
locate a dime
for compassion.

And just then the phone rings.
It's your best friend:
the computerized voice of a telemarketing system
that's just sure you need burglar bars on your windows,
and a state of the art electronic alarm
for your most precious possession,
your dangerously vulnerable
yet stylishly seductive piece of the American
dream,  with its powerful internal combustion,
and its dazzling metallic sheen.