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                             “Shall I weep if . . . an infant civilization
be ruled with rod or with knout?”

                                                     – Tennyson, Maud; A Monodrama

The dumpy little man                
with the scourge in his hand,
in his free time
runs his fingers
over the keys of a baby grand –
but we’ve seen it all before.
And so, from the primitive East
we return to the West.
He’ll help solve the economy’s problems:            
the unemployed will man the tanks,                    
or dig graves,
and, come evening,
we’ll listen to Schubert and Mozart.
O my country, my country,
with each sandal,
with each thread
of my khaki pants,
I’ve loved you –
I could compose
psalms to a salad
of white cheese and scallions.
But now, who will I meet
when I go out for dinner?
Gramsci’s jailers?
What clamor will rise
up through the window facing the street?
And when it’s all over,
my dear, dear reader,
on which benches will we have to sit,
those of us who shouted “Death to the Arabs!”
and those who claimed they “didn’t know”?