Burying Caesar in Chicago
by Lew Rosenbaum
“I have come to bury Caesar
Not to praise him.”
So spoke Mark Antony
At the great man’s funeral,
And then proceeded to extol
Caesar’s virtues for the remainder of his monologue,
Until he roused the Roman masses
To avenge Caesar’s murder.
Antony ignored the rebellion
Brewing near Galilee.
He could not speak yet of the crucifixion,
Still a half century to come,
Of a poor carpenter, a fisher of men.
Now it’s the day after the Ides of March
I HAVE come to bury Caesar.
Caesar, upon his death,
Bequeathed to each Roman citizen
The sum of seventy-five drachmas.
Our Caesar, fearing the anger of
Chicago workers, dangled a carrot,
A minimum wage raise to thirteen dollars
Per hour in four years.
In FOUR YEARS!
Oh yes. I have come to BURY Caesar.
Our gentle Caesar,
In his penetrating recognition
Of our anxieties,
Pledged to improve our mental health services. . .
By closing half the Chicago clinics.
At the disarray in the public schools,
He wept tears of pure gold
That ran rivulets into the pockets of
His honorable charter school cronies.
Then he crossed the Rubicon,
Embarked on a forced march to
Shutter more than fifty schools.
I tell you
I have come to bury our honorable Caesar.
Had Brutus and Cassius, both honorable men,
Stabbed their Caesar on the South Side of Chicago,
His murder might have been averted,
Or so some Romans say, lamenting his fate.
I say not so, for Chicago’s Caesar
Stood fast opposing a trauma center
Which might have staunched the flow
From those unkindest cuts of all.
I come to bury Caesar,
Not to praise him.
Nor will I lend my ears
To those who sycophate at his feet,
Paint pictures that can never
Obliterate the blood he has let.
I come to bury Caesar.
I come to elect Jésus.