As is familiar in the recounting of legends, this tale begins with a prophecy as told by the most perceptive of the elders, one who bartered the vitality of his youth for the power to feel the invisible threads that bind the myriad voices of nature into a single perfect sound. Few heed the wisdom of elders anymore, for their words are crafted of a gentle, sturdy material, and we live now in a time where people only recognize value in that which is bold, shiny, or sleek. “Honesty does not seduce. Rather, it cleans the heart of the residue that accumulates as a result of our indulgence in desire,” he once said to us when we were still children. “But today, people demand seduction – they are made unable to survive without it - and as such we allow the colorful artificial lights that dance alongside tall buildings of steel to touch us more than the permanence of the moon.” As we became older, we slowly lost interest in his teachings, a process that coincided with our growing fascination with money and fame. Only now do I recognize this as the moment I began to lose my sensitivity to the flesh of the world. Had we continued to listen to his words and heard his prophetic warnings, we would have long ago foreseen the coming of this age now upon us, long before the arrival of the endless howling, long before the black ash clouds laid their fat, elegant bodies across the horizon of our land - this kingdom that the ancestors named ‘the United States of America’.
“There will come, for this land, a time of great change, a change that boils with enormous portions of both the magnificent and the vile, and our kingdom will be brought upon the tall, radiant gates of a new age,” he said, his voice always calm but filled with an evenly spread intensity, “an age that will see the distinct magic of each of our tribes begin to marry themselves together across the whole of the kingdom for the first time, a great convergence of the ancestries that will give life to yet unimaginable wonders, a glory whose colors are today unknowable to us.” Then the texture of his voice hardened, its temperature plunging, “but as the magic of the tribes grow closer together, the evil that lives in the land and feeds from the bloodstream of its hatred will become increasingly fearful and begin to stir with agitation. And before we are allowed inside the gates whose shining iron hums of a new world, a dark and powerful figure will rise. His head will be covered with a reminder of death, his face a contorting image of delirium and misery. The movements of his mouth will be unnatural, and he will speak in spells, his words giving fire and conviction to the evil of the land. As he emerges, so too shall we see the ugliness of the kingdom rise into view: a horde of the hateful, driven by a deep and disturbing pride in their own darkness, will march upon us.”
He spoke this prophecy from time to time, on the occasion of particularly exotic moons or in moments where one could feel the changing mood in the flesh of the world. One would always find a crowd of heads gathered around him, listening, most of them belonging to children. But despite its reasonably frequent telling, its graphic and ominous tone, the tale – his warning - was always quickly forgotten. Most people knew of the turmoil and savagery of America’s past - that beneath the very soil upon which our mighty towers and glimmering oracles are built, innumerable bodies have been buried by acts of evil, setting adrift across the land a legion of discomforted souls. But such history was always easy for us to forget. For America is a prosperous land, and the chiseled chapters of its history have seen the kingdom become home to a wondrous collection of differing tribes, each mostly concerned with mining for one of the desired commodities of money or fame through the great machine known as the Commercium – a spectacularly powerful system engineered by ancient Americans to convert human life force to money or fame. Today, the machine encompasses nearly our entire kingdom and way of life. Some believe the alchemic magic of the Commercium to be fueled in part by dark forces. “How could a machine that coerces a human to trade his life force for paper currency not be evil?”, some ask. “It drives us to give up all that is sacred in exchange for money or fame,” say others. But the Commercium is a manmade million-arm goddess, blindingly seductive, a brute force machine that makes war-like labor of human lives yet speaks with the gentle song-like voice of your first love, the appearance of its body moist with sweetened promises and the most glimmering distractions. And so the people of America were often made too infatuated, too obsessed, too tired, too overwhelmed by their iron and lust romance with the Commercium to care about the possible truth of any old man’s tale. This, until the day the howling began from across the plains, and the mark of hatred began to appear upon the mouths of our children.
The rise of Trump was sudden, yet subtle, the loudness of his actual horror somehow easing gently into the air around us. His first appearances, unlike the way one might imagine, were unaccompanied by branches of lightning scratching across the sky, and he wore no fluttering trail of crows as his coattails. In fact, Trump’s arrival was lathered in an atmosphere of good humor, merriment even, and most across the kingdom gave him attention as a means of entertainment more than for any other cause. This, until the howling began; the howling that has still not ended. Most could not recognize the peculiar style of Trump’s sermon - that it was in fact a mighty sorcery - and as he continued to speak, a tremor was born in the hearts of many of the kingdom’s people. Then some began to howl, violent and belligerent like boars, spewing forth a sickly sounding language that seemed mostly senseless but could nonetheless be understood as a fiery feeling of hatred between human and fellow human. Acts of violence began to occur, of course. The howling spread with incomprehensible speed and intensity, until all of the peace that we once knew, flowering in the open spaces of the sky, withered, the clouds darkening as if drenched in ash, their bodies precipitating upon us an unconquerable feeling of dread. It is from this time that I write you now, from upon the stone steps of the mountain home of our greatest elder after 6 days of travel, my heart a compass magnetized by fear and pointing me towards him in order to seek an understanding – one that might serve as antidote to the misery that fills my chest like hot coals.
“The birth of a new life is paid for by the enduring of great agony,” he says to me, “this is the way of the universe. Beautiful creation and brutal destruction are lovers, hands held and always together, a pair of children wandering across the sparkling road of time.” The elder’s voice is completely open and reveals an absolute inner calm. “So when a new age is born, a new world struggling forth from the womb of destiny, we must expect an even greater pain. The rise of Trump, the growing excitement among the evil across the kingdom, the howling of hatred: these are the mother’s cries that accompany the delivery of a new child. Trump will gather the worst of our land, yes – but he will also rally the best of our kingdom, helping to bring about a yet unfulfilled power in our people.”
“For a first time, the differing tribes - the beautiful descendants of Africa, the black haired and dark eyed children of Asia, the strong hearted sons and daughters of Europe, the precious ones arrived to us from Arab lands and the Latino kingdoms… – they of their differing beliefs and practices, they of their unique magic and powers, have now a symbol that tells of a common obstacle between them, and a common purpose. In these times now upon us, they will see that the greater destiny of our kingdom, America, is made of a merging of their individual destinies. They will see that our future is a shared and singular one; and in seeing this, their tribes will for a first time face one another open-hearted, and from these unlocked corridors the unique magic of their distinct ancestries will pour into each other, like the merging of a thousand, thousand rivers. From this a new age for the United States of America will be born, and its radiance will reach and touch and influence all other kingdoms. This, is what has begun.”
He finished, and did not speak again. Even at this distance, I could still hear the howling hung high in the air above the land of our homes, the rumbling of the infected, the promises of violence murmured by the trembling soil. But inside of me, it was for the first time in many weeks quiet again, and the two of us sat for a moment without time staring at the black ash clouds laying against the mountains, they like the resting bodies of sinister dragons after a large and violent feast.