A Dark Fire is Kindled in Phoenix

Watching the videos from a safe place,
I’m struck not just by the crowd but by how it moves,
how it swarms to the front like flies to a corpse and churns about in agitated delirium.
It’s all so Bacchic, in its frenzied ecstasy and cultish ritual, or even Lovecraftian;
I half-expect the crowd to start chanting to Cthulhu any minute now.
But the only Elder God this cruel spectacle honors is standing on the podium,
and he speaks in a tongue far less esoteric,
one leavened with a thousand primal appeals and playground slurs.
He seems downright lycanthropic:
a thinly-concealed monster whose savagery surfaces with the rising moon behind him.
Even his hair appears more like fur, his slouched spine a bit more like a crouching beast's,
and his teeth shine like daggers.
But to the mob below he is their archangel of war,
the radiant destroyer bearing the sword of right to their side,
and so each one gives their soul as tinder for the great blaze that flames upward,
flickering and flaring in time with the leader’s pronouncements and the crowd’s fevered cheers.
I thought fascism was a disease of the middle-aged,
inoculated neither by youthful idealism nor aged wisdom,
but there are greyheads and teenagers in the ghoulish flock below.
There’s a boy scarcely older than me, a boy with brown hair and a green sweatshirt like mine
standing just under the platform, screaming and waving his sign,
and I want to take him by the shoulders and shake him,
sit him down for a civilized meal somewhere far from the gathering madness,
gently tell him, “You know he’s using you, right? You know you’re a staircase, a burnt sacrifice
offered up to Moloch to feed his power?”
But I can’t tell him, and doubtless he wouldn’t listen anyway.
So I watch the wolf-pack grow wilder, watch them howl,
watch them lunge at protesters along the edges,
who try in vain to hold up the lamp of the Enlightenment
against a stygian tide far baser and more primeval,
watch the inferno rage higher and higher, fueled by bloodlust and fear.
When the speaker says his last word and the crowd applauds,
I turn off my computer and, for the first time in many a year,
pray before I go to sleep.