Canto 86: Regime Change

How morally corrupt are we that we need a war
to feel good about ourselves

Tim Robbins


Revenge

How transient that lithe-limbed lady’s life,
stooping to sow seedlings, scorched by the sun,
her face plastered with mud and dusty earth.
Ukñā Suttantaprījā Ind

The Allies muster clumpetty replies,
Cluster-bombs bash, from stratofortresses,
Big-stinking paths, defenceless from the skies
Ground squadrons groan at their falling forces;
A fierce advance
Against the Taliban,
Who’ll take heroic stance, defending to a man.

Step-by-step the Allies struggle
Thro’ the rugged mountain bar,
Tho’ Taliban have fled Kabul
& battle-scarr’d Kandahar,
All the local warlords huddle
Around Bin Laden’s star,
Hiding in his protective catacoomb,
Glendower of the Tora-Boran gloom.

As every day gun-noises near
Capture draws on closer,
Fresh hopes appear, bereft of fear,
Cautiously Osama
Sped west to Pakistan thro’ the passes of Paktia.

Afghanistan
November
2001


Peace March

Nail to the mast her holy flag,
Set every threadbare sail,
& give her to the god of storms
OW Holmes

They march’d en masse into the capital;
Made a peacehugging, socialist anthill,
Heavy-hearted with forthcoming battle,
Why would the world unleash war’s terror still?
From age to youth
Our vast majorities
Choose not the dragonstooth of Hell’s hostility.

O world, sweet world, sweet world of mine,
& billions of others,
Would we not wish a sun to shine
Upon a world of brothers,
Why would ye wish to hear the whine
Of our wailing mothers?
For surely cruel lessons have been learnt
When Prague fell & the streets of Poplar burnt.

I wander silent thro’ the roar
Rumtumbling thro’ the crowd,
“What is life for” “Make tea not war!”
The gentle clamour loud,
The later portions of my task with firmer thought endow’d.

Hyde Park
February 15th
2003


Invasion of Iraq

The ancient tombs lie thicker on the grass;
The new graves encroach even on the highway
Outside the city-wall there is no vacant ground;
Tzu-Lan

Saxons have reach’d the beach’d Shatt-al-arab,
Where Tigris & Euphrates stem their flow
Scimitars sharpening for the scarab,
Amicus est tamquam alter ego;
The serpent’s head
Call’d the fight for heaven,
Wielding a gold-plated AK forty-seven.

As when a brave, young Persian Shah
Defied Queen Victoria,
The British Navy sails to spar
Amid the streets of Basra,
With better guns & battlestar
Marches desert soldier,
Joining opening batsmen at the crease
To end the wars with this more perfect peace.

He slipt away into the night
That man men call Hussein,
For from the fight if ye take flight
Ye live to fight again
Like Washington’s irregulars & Wellington’s young Spain.

Baghdad
May
2003


Bombing Madrid

Oh, bring not then the dread report of death,-
Of eyes to loveliness forever sealed,
Of youth that perished as a passing breath
Helena Coleman

Nine hundred & eleven days are pass’d
Since 9-11 thro’ world psyche tore,
Handsome Jihadis waking from repast,
Thrust fundamentalism to the fore;
This is Jihad!
A culture & a cause,
As out of Attobad codewords conduct the Wars.

Another routine, protein day,
As rush hour fast receeded,
The Christian elite shall pay!”
Was warning wide unheeded,
Both Eta & the IRA
Truly superceded,
Striking horror thro’ the Spanish nation,
Ignite pack’d trains at Atocha station.

Within a week the cell is found,
Some dirty hideaway,
Arm’d police surround the plot of ground,
Young Arabs kneel & pray,
Then blow themselves to kingdom come as martyrs pass away.

Legures
March
2003


Regime’s End

A hawk’s eye
Penetrates to the core
On a hot afternoon
David Rubadiri

Pursuing the ‘most wanted’ deck of cards,
Two pictures caught, their lavishlarge mansion
Reduced, their father’s kingdom torn to yards
The focal point of the world’s attention;
Four-hour fire-fight
Odai & now Qusai
Are finally in sight, mark’d by the sniper’s eye.

Only the Ace of Spades remains,
The very ultimate goal,
First target of the Allied pains
Ten short minutes from his fall;
Namore the tyrant hydra reigns,
They’ve found him in a hole,
Without an army & without a plan,
Dishevel’d & ignoble… an old man.

They led up him up into the light,
Glanc’d he ‘cross the river
Where shines the sight, fabulous, bright,
Spinal spinning shiver,
Best of his golden palaces commandeer’d forever.

Tikrit
September
2003


Suicide Bomber

I will rise
with the soul of the earth
I will run
Moechtar Awang

As Al-Jazeera shows brave Muslims bleed
& Mosques of Leeds incite a deep passion,
Hasib abandons the young British breed –
Pop music, hedonism & fashion –
For Pakistan
Nursery of Islam,
For Allah, the Quran & elevate Imam.

We are watchmen of the pure way,
Guardians of the martyrs,
Sons of brave Hossein Fahmideh,
Drinkers of God’s elixirs,
Death bringing to the USA
& all non-believers,
With weapons unassailable & good
Defending faith with our last drops of blood!”

On long flight home the martyr sees
Flowers cloud round heaven;
Customs a breeze, drops to his knees
At the railway station,
Life amplified for one young man plotting devastation.

Manchester
2004


Troubadour

What racks can bind, or what research unveil
The soul, with flesh encompassed as a mail
Of proof, impervious, save to God alone
Nicholas Thorning Moile

I flew to Salzburg & a land unique,
Breath’d in the Berchtesgaden fairytale,
The Residenzmuseum at Munich,
& Dachau, where I heard the phantoms’ wail;
From wyrd Landsberg
The ghost of Herr Hitler
Leads me to Nuremburg, heart of Bavaria!

At Jena, amid wooded heights,
Admir’d I Napoleon,
Left Leipzig under dull street lights
For Colditz schloss – & on
To Berlin with her stirring sights
Of grandeur not long gone;
The imperial park of Sans Soucci,
The Maifeld… & that villa by Wansee!

I felt a young conquistador,
Calm Clio was my guide,
Her haute couture was mine, de jure,
Oer poet’s they preside,
Those minxing muses whom with synching scenes our dreams provide!

Germany
2004


A New Blitz

Why came I so untimely forth
Into a world which wanting thee
Coudl entertaine us with no worth
Edmund Waller

As Londoners rose glorious & gay,
The thirtieth Olympiad was theirs,
Whose families were flung into the fray
As thro’ the tube the first explosion tears;
Entrusted tasks,
With bomb-laden ruck-sacks,
The citizen unmasks, the terrorist attacks.

They had bought a single ticket,
Rode from Luton to Kings Cross,
Like openers at the wicket
When the Ashes first were lost,
Men of faith & peace & cricket,
But noble & brainwash’d,
A sleeper cell awoken to their rage,
A lion-thought pacing a bitter cage.

The waking world look’d on in awe,
When will we ever learn?
Still dying for the sake of war
Man’s miseries return –
The filth, the fears, the hate, the tears, the boodshed & the burn.

London
July 7th
2005


Death of Saddam Hussein

my sister said: save me the eyes
for a pair of earrings, & Martino
our blind neighbour, bagged the guts
Piedad Bonnett

Since Tilsit’s raft two centuries are pass’d,
My, all has been remarkable sithen,
They thought that peace, now peace settles at last
Upon the warring winter-time of men;
Saddam Hussein
Face melting with the snows,
By Allied justice slain, the doors of Janus close.

Tho’ conflictions still haunts Iraq
This hanging symbolizes
The age of Mars, tied in a sack
With all his crude disguises,
Then toss’d upon the Potomac,
Drowning with the Kaisers –
So, this is the way that the World Wars die,
Not with a bang, nor whimper… but a sigh.

How many fought? how many died?
Man’s future to secure,
Tyrants defied by lands allied
Made living lives more pure,
Far from those ravages of war our ancestors endure.

Baghdad
December
2006

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