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Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Exile of Ezra

Washington monument

1. If you had stood on the Washington Mall
as the new millennium whirred in--
the New Year's fireworks illuminating
the obelisk of the Washington Monument,
resembling a giant number one--

it would have been impossible
not to be struck down dumb
by the global pre-eminence and power
of America, projecting supremacy
as the world's sole superpower

       at the end of the 20th Century--
dubbed the "American Century",
where victory in the Cold War
made it the hegemon in a world
decidedly unipolar-- but it turned

       out America was really celebrating
an ending, and not a new beginning
or the continuation of power;
for in the following years however
fortunes have changed rapidly.

2. First came the tremors:
the dot-com bust and a disputed
presidential election in tatters.
Then came the massive convulsions:
the destruction of the Twin Towers
and the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

And with long wars in Afghanistan
and the savage Iraqi sacrifice
at immense financial expense,
extracting an enormous blood price,
new lows were reached along the way:
the detentions at Guantanamo Bay

       undermined American democracy,
just as the NSA spying scandals
undercut American diplomacy;
losing fuel for the spangled banner
to play its long-standing role
as global enforcer for its oil

       when even its pacific benevolence
is watered down by murder--
now if you stand on Washington Mall
it's no longer a number one at all,
but a stuck up middle finger
to mark the exile of Ezra.

Ezra, also called Ezra the Scribe and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra, was a Jewish scribe and a priest born in Babylon (Iraq). According to the Hebrew Bible he returned from Babylonian exile and reintroduced the Torah in Jerusalem.

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