Uncle Sam’s Yom Kippur

“[T]he prehistory, formation, expansion, and global ascendancy of the U.S. Empire have required endless holocausts at home and abroad…. Indeed, though most capitalists, politicians and pundits will never admit it, these endless holocausts have been indispensable in the rise of the wealthiest and most powerful imperium in the history of the world.”

— “Endless Holocausts: Mass Death in the History of the United States Empire,” by David Michael Smith, (2023, Monthly Review Press)

A flash of lightning,
A clap of thunder,
A harp arpeggio…
Uncle Sam suddenly finds himself
Amid a congregation of Chasidic Jews.

Now Uncle Shmuel, he is draped in a tallis.
He sports a black fedora,
Doffs it, revealing a yarmulka underneath.
He davens over a prayerbook,
On this, the holiest day of the year.

Uncle Shmuel recites the liturgical confession of sins…

For the sins which we have committed:
By hard-heartedness, with immorality,
Openly or secretly, through speech,
Through coercion, with evil inclination,
By false denial and lying,
And with a haughty demeanor;
By scheming against a fellowman,
By doing evil, by tale-bearing,
By causeless hatred…
And for the sins too horrible to mention
For which we would incur
The penalty of forty lashes,
Or the penalty of capital punishment,
By stoning, burning,
Decapitation or strangulation…

In the prescribed ritual,
Uncle Shmuel beats his breast at each sin.
He thinks,
Oy, if He only knew the half of it.

The shofar blasts and sunset falls.
He shakes his shaggy white mane
To clear his head.
His long white beard waves like a flag.
And Uncle Sam
Comes again to his WASP senses.

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.