Lunatic Leviathan

The Lunatic Leviathan has burst
The bonds that once constrained its mighty lust
Let loose upon the world to do its worst
It tramples under foot whole lands to dust

Beneath its awesome wheels this Juggernaut
Would crush devotees leaping to their doom
In ecstasy that, should they die for naught,
The monster's myth would shroud them in its gloom

Mad martyrs, many, glimpsed the bloody plan
They'd heard of virgin harems in reserve
Awaiting only suicidal man
His adolescent fantasies to serve

But as with any contract at its edge
Good Mephistopheles has finely drawn
A tiny line of words that marks the hedge
Redeeming back the promise left in pawn

For virgins by design are not the kinds
Who do those carnal things young men require
So for eternity the martyr finds
Around him only unfulfilled desire

And as Macbeth learned, torturing his mind,
The instruments of darkness do refine
Truths only of inconsequential kind
To bait the hook upon which fools will dine

Fools take the hook, though, aiming for the bait
For making om'lets means to break some eggs
Then for the promised om'let they must wait
Till someone finds a cook who'll fry the dregs

This catastrophic graduated plan
Means jumping in the sea without a doubt
Then, later, taking time to try and scan
Horizons for the leisurely way out

For having jumped so quickly in the drink
It would not do to seem about to drown
Because we cannot either swim or think
And have no wish to take the long way down

Like Gulliver staked on the shoreline sands
Of Lilliput by many tiny ropes
Wove diligent by many tiny hands
The giant lay subdued by tiny hopes

But when some tiny Lilliputian list
Of schemes to use the giant set him free
He saw a palace fire and on it pissed
Which left enraged a tiny majesty

Although he sipped it from a bitter cup
Fame's taste would Yamamoto's plan involve
For he had dared to wake a giant up
And fill it with a terrible resolve

Some years ensued when much of proud Mankind
Decided to destroy what it had built
And after which Leviathan would find
Itself almost alone armed to the hilt

Then sated with its fill Colossus slept
A glut of slaughter piled upon its plate
While orphans bawled and widowed women wept
And ruined cities smoldered in their fate

But soon again the beast began to stir
As hunger gnawed, Leviathan smelled meat
And craved saluting soldiers shouting "Sir!"
And wished to feed on fear and horror's heat

In boredom at domestic peace profound
The Lunatic Leviathan slipped free
And went careening over sea and ground
Enraptured by its own insanity

Somehow it had inhaled a viral strain
Of vicious virtue needing a Crusade
To spread abroad the anger, strife, and pain
That its own misery for it had made

Like elephants stampeding down a street
Lined on both sides with tiny China shops
The damage done cannot be called discreet
Since raging protest rings and seldom stops

But Lunatic Leviathan had thought
That if it charged around and broke some more
That somehow that would mean that it had bought
All the unbroken China in the store

Yet when proprietors demanded cash
To pay for all the broken merchandise
The Lunatic replied that he would crash
Into some more if they did not get wise

This threat implied the old "protection rent"
Where thugs would offer safety from "that guy"
And when the victim asked what "guy" they meant
They'd say: "The ones you're looking in the eye"

Extrapolated to a larger scene
Protection rackets need an Army vast
With soldier-cops equipped and really mean
And tribute funding so the scam can last

But as the Lunatic has done the math
It pays for all itself by buying thrills
This means its children have to take a bath
Financially, by paying future bills

So as we wish to be your noble friend
You'll do the things we ask if you know best
And pardon us if we proceed to bend
Your legs and arms and necks at our behest

For as we only wish the best for you
You'll never question why we just don't leave
We've weakened you so badly now, it's true,
That if we left no doubt you wouldn't grieve

The Lunatic Leviathan felt pain
At not achieving all that it desired
For in its tiny schizophrenic brain
A bureaucratic bungle had been sired

Despite enormous strength the giant fell
For it could not coordinate its feet

So that the left one and the right as well
Could every now and then the pavement meet

Its size and bulk alone required a head
Containing thoughtful matter that could guide
And not reactionary mystic dread
Or panicked fear of those who lived outside

But Lunatic had not this fund of lore
Nor did it wonder what its eyes should see
But only did as it had done before
Whatever that had started out to be

Inertial Guidance proved the proper term
As unreflective ego spun its top
With pride and passion ever set to squirm
And wrestle never knowing how to stop

The mighty aircraft ship that carries planes
Once underway can scarcely ever turn
So thus it sticks to its appointed lanes
With no new courses left to choose or spurn

The Baby Boomer cohort got its name
From having been conceived in time of peace:
A brief respite from war that put the flame
To every land from China through to Greece

Returning soldiers from their far-flung fights
And sailors, also, from their ships at sea
And airmen, too, descended from their flights
Soon procreated their posterity

And as the Babies played, their parents slaved
They toiled and built and spoiled their growing brood
They sacrificed themselves and all they'd saved
For offspring who received this as their food

But when the Booming Babies came of age
Colossus had again begun to glare
And hunt about for some new needless rage
In which it could the reckless young ensnare

It found some in a jungle far away
Where abstract angst and fear itself conspired
To scare Leviathan into its sway
And trap it there to leave it deeply mired

This, wealthy Baby parents could descry
And so as to protect their own preserve
They coined Selective Service alibi
To choose the ones who would not have to serve

The poor and black and brown who could not hide
Were vacuumed up by Draft's relentless maw
To satisfy Leviathan's vain pride
Selective Service caught them in its draw

Thus did the Boomer generation split
Into the demographics that defined
Its better and its worse components fit
For service or avoidance most refined

But this time as the quagmire petered out
In `one's and `two's survivors filtered home
In secrecy and shame lest any shout
The "loser" name at them while mouthing foam

And so as not to learn the lesson bought
By those who bore the scars of service raw
A "syndrome" was invoked to mask the rot
That covered up a rancid, reeking flaw

For lessons unlearned have a gruesome way
Of teaching blood and sweat and tearful toil
They come around again to have their day
Exacting death's tuition as their spoil

And now those Booming Babies who once ran
Have wormed their way atop the greasy pole
And done once more the only thing they can:
Like shove some luckless soldier in a hole

Caught up now in Leviathan's demise
They seek in desperation to defray
Their debt to soldiers of a greater size
Who asked not to be used in this foul way

But symbol soldiers serve to shield the few
Who screw them if a single chance they get
Behind this conjured image brave and true
Hide some, "supporting troops" who've not died yet

But Lunatic Leviathan needs air
For it has gotten strangely out of breath
In snuffing out young life both strong and fair
It now begins to fear for its own death

Bewildered Boomer Babies now must face
The consequences of their childhood long
Few slaving parents now live to efface
The consequences of their siren song

The party life has now begun to drag
Prolonging adolescence hasn't served
The solipsistic urge to boast and brag
Our nation from its proper course has swerved

The "tough guy" Boomer Babies now lament
Those Rambo TV movies they imbibed
Their foolish gamble now cast in cement
Has left them looking weak and circumscribed

With guns or butter choices drawing near
They chose them both for they could not decide
Against the free-lunch concept they held dear
Now matter how much scarcity applied

Like those who on their glowing screens portrayed
Stern visages of competence and strength
Cheerleaders for the bait-and-switch brigade
Appeared to offer latitude and length

Such emptiness as this no world had known
Where lollipops and legions mingled free
With schizoid paranoia fully blown
And greedy thieves inside the treasury

And heartless, harping, harlots followed camp
To service all that empire seemed to need
In time with contract carpetbaggers' tramp
The "gold rush" on itself began to feed

But somehow ingrate Caliban perverse
Prospero's lofty language learned too well
He profited by learning how to curse
And told his would-be master: "Go to hell!"

As Brutus spoke of time and tide that swerves
In the affairs of men which ebb and flood
The wise one takes the current when it serves
Away from shallow miseries and mud

Omitted, though, the voyage of their life
And all their ventures ill-conceived or worse
Are lost in vanity and useless strife
While they their repetitious lines rehearse

Now as Macbeth sits sulking in his pain
By men not born of women white impaled
The Birnam woods have come to Dunsinane
And all his prophecies have simply failed

Still soldiers in the desert sands adrift
Deserve a human homeward helping hand
Marooned in mayhem, needing now a lift
Out of a thankless, lethal foreign land

But while we dither dainty, doubtful, daft
With no concern much less an urgency
Our soldiers in the desert get the shaft
And lose their lives and limbs with certainty

Now struggle for the narrative begins
How soon can they the future lesson frame?
Lest held to answer for their many sins
The perpetrators can't escape the blame

This will require amnesia once again
A "syndrome" to blot out recall of loss
So in the future they can make some rain
To lubricate the luster of their boss

Who'll hire them as consultants back once more
To feed upon the public's helpless itch
“Strategic introductions" they adore
As means to peddle influence till rich

The Congressmen convened to boast their views
No "timetable" for leaving, they avowed
Which told the people what was hardly news:
No measurement of progress was allowed

For if the government could clearly plan
To do a thing and then complete the work
What hope would this not conjure up in Man,
Who'd only ever seen the beast berserk?

So bloodied soldiers still will bear the load
While Congress bloviates and stalls for time
And kicks the can on down the endless road
Till Congress can consume our last damn dime

Like rats that scurry from a sinking ship
The righteous chickens now would fly the coop
In their own droppings now they slide and slip
Their hawkish glare now fixed on their own poop

The wars of Peter Parkinson now rage
Incompetents fail upward to the top
And war expands to fill an endless age
Since no goal sets the limit when to stop

The Lunatic Leviathan now squats
And defecates on what was once a name
Which now defines no more than blood that clots
Upon a wound that serves but to defame

As ever, though, the symbol soldier tries
To do his job and through the madness strive
Forever to recall his friend that dies
Thus keeping him in memory alive

Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright 2005