The Unconditional Judgment of History

Before he capitulated to the cancer
that lay siege to his throat
behind the warring fog of cigar smoke,
a lethal Anaconda Plan executed to precision,
cutting off air, squeezing and suffocating his lungs,
the victorious general of Shiloh, Vicksburg, and Appomattox
reflected on his life,
penned his memoirs,
handed them unceremoniously to Mark Twain,
then unconditionally surrendered.

U.S. Grant
fought to end slavery
though he’d owned slaves once himself.
His presidency engulfed in scandal.
His post-presidency mired in financial ruin.
Yet his last courageous battle
to finish his autobiography
before death’s final assault  
ensured his widow’s prosperous future.
Judged an honorable man by his contemporaries,
escorted to his tomb by four honorary pallbearers,
two Union, two Confederate generals,
his greatest legacy was unconditional forgiveness.

Today exists a new generation
of generals and judges
determined to wage war
with the people of the past.
Demanding repentance
from the more than century-long dead
without voice to defend themselves.
The contemporary crusaders,
self-assured in their righteousnes,
learned everything they know about their forebears
from The Walking Dead.
No longer human, their ancestors
are zombies
to be feared,
reviled,
unconditionally despised.

Over the historical horizon,
an army of the yet-to-be born
assembles and awaits its turn
to vanquish
this self-congratulatory generation
and topple its statutes
that proclaim
its unconditional
moral superiority.