For the writers of Monthly Review, 1949 to the present

See the booted, helmeted soldiers,
flung across the earth
like a planet-wrapping tree:
roots burrow through deserts and forests;
branches twist around mountains and continents;
leaves float over the oceans.

Watch these soldiers of Castille,
Lisbon, London and Paris,
descend from ships on horseback,
carrying steel and fire
to lacerate brown bodies
and feast on disease and death.

Look at the goods, manufactured and shipped:
like migratory birds and butterflies,
they crisscross the planet,
finding places to feed and nest:
the fledgling takes flight; the butterfly bursts the chrysalis;
things become commodities.

Now study the rivers and currents of capital,
its patterns of distribution and exchange:
capital flows endlessly
outward from the metropole,
returning a tsunami of profit,
leaving a wake of misery.

But you will never know the awe of empire
until you lift its broken shards
of colored glass up to the light
where the fragments spin
and chaos tumbles into symmetry:
a kaleidescope of jagged, concentric lands.

All kneel before the hegemon,
ranked by degrees of subjugation.
Not one is truly sovereign.
But look! One by one, they begin to rise.
The world tips off balance….
And rights itself, this time upside down.

Roger Stoll lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and has published articles, book reviews and political poetry in Black Agenda Report, Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Internationalist 360, Jewschool, Marxism-Leninism Today, MintPress News, MRonline, New Verse News, Orinoco Tribune, Popular Resistance, Resumen Latinoamericano, San Francisco Examiner, and ZNet. Read other articles by Roger.