Homage to Slobodan Milosevic

Slobo! Once an apparatchik, Bad economist in Warsaw tweed, A star planner and a rising star, As temples came down you met Your chance. “No one will dare To beat you anymore!” And there Emerged a great roar; and backs Once bent indeed uncrooked; and The international community Grew wonderfully displeased. Consider our late century past In the lens of this epilogue. In Europe’s hindmost gut, after All the real shouting had stopped And universal comedy prevailed, Arose a sort of bastard king; Stood up half a man. Half! Man, Cross of ape and god, sometimes Demon and sometimes seraph, Is on average an orc; on average, Half of him deserves to be free. And king or dictator, emperor Or pope, is freest man of all, Whole sections of the sphere As his wing and will; where he Alone owns all credit or shame. Yours was mainly the latter, for Shortly once said beating ceased Were your Chetnik snipers found, Posting toddlers from rooftops. Slobo, great orc, you overdid it. To refute what Charles Beard Called the “devil theory of war,” You went all the way to full devil: A mistake not invented by you, Natural in the black mind of man, Whose impact random strangers bear. What truth was ever born a lie? What devil ever told the truth? The very first lie is the exit to hell. To live in the devil’s kingdom, Choose a politician for your king. It finished well for neither king, Clamped in a fluorescent cube, Nor realm—now well regelded. Frankly, your part of the world Has never been well regarded. Still, that world well inspected Shows more than a few bent backs; The theory yet remains disproved. “No one will dare to beat you!” And who indeed should be beaten, Desisting from all self-defence? For some we grant deserve it, At least the opposite carrot; For there are nations of orcs. But all? Or suppose empire Endures forever: will its children Indefinitely require correction, Mother’s love, father’s wisdom, Bribe here and blockade there, Now or then a well-nuanced bomb? Quite the reverse, I do suspect. Just turn the whole thing off! Like bad teenagers disowned The very worst would improve; The best would find full flower. But which of us will ever know? History, we learn, has ended. Today’s regime is regime eternal. Our dear international community, Global apex bureaucracy! Its scope, the planet. Its life, Infinite. Its predators, none. What Daniel will write on its wall? Who gets to pull the plug on it? Could even think of doing so, Either now or for time unending? Future is permanent present; Nations mean nothing. Men, Ideal, atomic, individual, Can laugh and fall fallow With light souls like butterflies Washed colorless as cellophane, Unconcerned with past or place, Free of all glory or ambition, Rigorous and concrete-skulled Or shallow, bland and gushing, Quite immune to pride or shame, Quite perfect for bureaucracy: As the planet returns in space, As homogeneous as immutable, Growing gray in static place. Dare we doubt this? Why not dare? Man, who made himself with fire, Whose bones are carved for war, Shall write a story never over. Does he expect to exist forever In this homogenized condition, As or, worse, aspiring to be One equal planet-sized village— One thing, varied here and there With charming clothes and dances, Local cooking, a quaint language, Many of the original buildings— Where once stood kings and nations? “For all time, too, till his lousy own,” Breaks the defendant, out of turn: Small hero in a backward way, Slobo.