Abattoir Requiem (for Kurt Vonnegut)

What is the penalty
for being a self-conscious creature,
living simultaneously
in an eternal symbolic world
of our own construction
and in the natural world
in which,
looking straight ahead,
we see our oncoming death?

The unpleasant fact
is that life feeds on life,
no matter how far we distance ourselves
from the slaughterhouse.

Poet and philosopher
speak of love, charity, rights of man
and sacredness of life.
Far away blood flows,
cries rise in the night.

A dark cloud of malevolence

circles the globe

touching down momentarily

in places like Treblinka,

Cambodia, Syria,

now Gaza.

There is an unbroken line
from the abattoir
to the worst atrocities
of human beings.

My mind’s eye searches
anxiously
for meaning in human history,
ranging from the savannas
of prehistoric Africa
to the monuments of ancient Egypt
to the smoking ruins of Dresden and Hiroshima.

We are not so different,
after all,
from wild and ravening beasts.
The violence we have given up
in the course of becoming orderly
and moral
has not been eliminated.
It is passed on,
it is handed up.
It collects at the top,
in the White House,
Number Ten Downing Street,
the Reichstag, the Kremlin.

Religion, a collection of failed myths
that establish moral and sexual boundaries,
but only until it began losing its power
to bedazzle us.

The “will to power” is the primary motivation.
The stupid and the cautious
tend to obey the rules.
The bold are drawn to break them.

Cry anguish at a world without
intrinsic meaning,
how desperately we try to be heroes
even nihilistic ones

to ourselves and others.

 

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About circusinpurgatory
Nick Masesso Jr’s fictionalized short stories, poetry and prose have been published in the Starry Night Review, Elegant Thorn Review, Language and Culture.net and Vagabond Press; the Battered Suitcase. His latest book “Armor of Innocence” and first book “Walking the Midway in Purgatory, a Journal” are available on-line and through bookstores.

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