UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Establishment by Eleanor Wilner

The Bush/Cheney Years

Death had established himself in the Red Room,
the White House having become his natural
abode: chalk-white facade, pillars like the bones
of extinct empires, armed men crawling its halls
or looking down, with suspicion, from its roof;
its immense luxury, thick carpets, its plush velvet chairs—
all this made Death comfortable, bony as he is, a fact
you'd barely notice, his camouflage a veil of flesh
drawn over him, his tailor so adroit, and he so elegant,
so GQ, almost a dandy, so suited for the tables
where the crystal, silverware, the swans of ice gleamed
with the polished purity of light on precious things;
Death was the guest of honor here, confiding, convivial
among friends who leaned to light his cigar—his power
seemed their own, body counts at their command;
a power beyond even their boy-wet dreams
was now a custom they feared to lose: each saw
the world the way a hooded falcon on the fist
sees it, blind, waiting for the next release; one word
could bury villages alive, could send
battalions to an early grave—
so Death can rest
assured, smiling at such a harvest—and so
deliciously unseasonable, like berries in winter.
Welcome houseguest, he stretches his ancient
frame, warm under expensive wool, sipping wine,
picking his teeth with a last bone,
meat all the sweeter for being
the lambs of honor, corn-fed and unsuspecting;
or the children playing in the rubble
who reach down for a souvenir of steel
that has fallen from the sky—really,
Death has seldom had a better season or such
a winning score; he must see to their protection,
these little men who think to be his master—
flatter a fool and make him useful, he thinks,
and smiles, benignly, whitely, at his hosts,
assuring them of his gratitude, his presence
at their councils, his everlasting support ...
until, no longer able to hide
his triumph, his delight, forgetting the flesh
he has clothed himself in for the occasion,
he rubs his hands together
in the ancient gesture of satisfaction,
naked bone on bone—how the sound grates,
how the grateful sparks fly!