Hope & the Beast of History

by Eric Chaet

– for Baek Han-yi

I’ve been studying your nation’s history:
foreign enemies & civil war
those with & without privileges
those who would do anything for money
or for power or to be allowed to survive
those foolish & courageous
in different modes & proportions
who rose up in rebellion
usually beaten into submission
or imprisoned or killed.

Your nation’s history
except, of course, for the strange names
is just like my nation’s history
& humanity’s history, too!

It’s sad! It’s depressing!
It’s enough to drop you from your trajectory!
To make you give up
or, at least, to give up your illusions.

Is there hope?
You’re damn right there’s hope—
hope exactly at that moment
when you drop your illusions
at the high point of your trajectory
just exactly when you face up
to what’s been happening everywhere
& that it’s still happening
& that it’s happening to you
& that there’s no escaping from it
exactly as there’s no escaping from yourself!

There you are
dropped from the high point of your trajectory
right flat down at the bottom
of the heap of what your life has come to
without an illusion to your name—
& very nearly everyone else is flying
full speed from dinosaurs into artificial intelligence
repeating what you realize is only
permutations of what
they have been programmed to repeat.

That’s exactly where there’s hope—
the only hope with integrity
universal hope at that
tho it’s only the faintest little pilot light
& you’re only the faintest little pilot—
the only hope that doesn’t feed
the raging fire of the beast of history!


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