Hymn to the Koch Brothers
Dear Esteemed Brothers,
On the way back from my father’s village, I’ve decided to take time to think over topics connected to our common interests. News of your conquests in America first reached us here in the backwater like word of a distant storm. It was in the mouth of Yoweri Museveni that I first heard your name. My friends, I beg you. Listen well. The goat with the keenest ears never ends up with okra in the village stew.
If, after my envoy arrives at the palace, an adviser bursts in to inform me that a band of rebels wearing helmets made from peanut shells has seized a police station in the swamps of the south, I will dispatch the army. But I will do so without fear that the palace will fall; savagery does not yield to hope, nor stone to bamboo. But let us imagine this adviser bursting in with news of some great parasite that has been draining nutrient from every vegetable on my farm, some shadow administration working wizardry within all branches of my government, drowning the judiciary in money, backing candidates to run for parliament, tonguing their dialect into local laws. After hearing such news I would dispatch, not the army, but the imperial guard. Therein lies the joy of power. And your first tardy lesson in it. Don’t be ashamed, my Koch Brothers; the world is full of students who’ve begun to lose a grip on their bladders.
Beyond my motorcade a great forest is passing, third growth, I regret, but the ministers’ wives have a taste for crystal. Your contributions to the science of corruption are impressive. American laws, of course, are by design
overly complex; add enough spices to the soup and no one will notice that the chicken is gone. But why when you have an endless appetite for seizing power within the state, have you no urge to seize the statehouse? A thousand years of dubious lobbying is outdone in an instant by one blow from a cutlass. To weaken your enemies through the funding of faux science and anti-voter campaigns is to slip into the house like a jinn. And now I read of this effort to ban the filming of chickens? David and Charles, you are involved in too much unpleasantness.
Do not forget that I write as a friend, that I wish you both what is good and what is useful. As my envoy travels toward the distant glow of the capital, I worry that your stratagem has all the glory of baboons stealing potatoes in the dark. Men have known for centuries that justice is the will of the stronger, not the most conniving. To have your vassal bring you a virgin every night for three years, that is to know power. One tooth bites from anger but another bites from love. Please, my brothers, cease to be parasites and become dragons.
It is with the taste of wild game on my lips that my Mercedes has finally reached a road I could not help but pave. You don’t seem to know the parable of the farmer who grew so rich in yams that he died before he could find his way through his yam piles to fetch a woman to cook one for him. In the village the poorest son says, “What use is great wealth when a man has but a single mouth?” “Yes,” says the middle son, “but in a year he uses it a thousand times.” The richest son retorts, “To be a tyrant is to be free of math.” Calculators, Kochs, are for money changers. And a chill in the spirit means you have married a woman who gathers too little wood. So untame yourselves. One does not have to be born a pharaoh. Become sackers of cities.
But remember what they sing in the mountains of our neighbors, that even the spider who learns to snare birds is still the junior brother of ‘Ngai. Divorce yourselves from contingencies and stealth and the failure of mind to field an army. But turn your eyes away from Washington; neither man nor cashew tree can hold such an empire in his roots. Move south. Cross the border. Go for Guatemala. When you turn and fly toward the sun, the people will see that you have all the colors of the peacock in your wings.
Your humble servant,
His Honorable Excellency Chief Doctor Jonah
David McDannald is the co-author of The Last Great Ape, recently published by Pegasus Books. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in such journals as TriQuarterly, Sierra, and The American Scholar.