Sunday, February 16, 2003

Iraq, a River, a Sea 

Saddam translates Maya Angelou:

Iraq, a River, a Sea,
Hosts to species long since departed,
Mark the Mesopotamian
Dinosaurs, who left oil tokens
Of their sojourn here
Upon our planet floor.
Any broad alarm of their of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
But today, Iraq cries out to all, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may tread upon my
Back and face your mortal destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.
I will give you no hiding place down here.
You, created even lower than
Lucifer, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.
Your mouths spelling words
Armed for slaughter.
Iraq cries out today, you try to stand on me,
But do not hide your face
Across the wall of the U.N.
River Tigris sings a beautiful song,
Come die here by my side.
Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and stupidly made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
So, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more.
Come, clad in peace; I sing to the son of Kim Il-song,
For fusion�s same power as when Iraq,
The River, and the Sea were first one.
Before naivete was a bloody sear across your brow
And when you yet knew you still knew nothing.
The Tigris just sings on and on.
There is a true yearning to respond to
The deadly river and evil Iraq.
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew,
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Kurd, the French, the Greek,
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheik,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the sea.
Today, the first and last of every sea
Speaks to humankind. Come to the Gulf beside the river.
Die here beside me, here beside the river.
Each of you, descendant of some passed on
Traveler, has been paid for.
You, who are willing to play my game,
You Pawnee, Apache and Seneca.
But you, al-Qa�ida, who took refuge here
Has forged with me our pact of death,
Employed to kill all other seekers--
Desperate for gain, starving for black gold.
You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot...
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru,
Bought, sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.
Here, drown yourselves beside me.
Iraq from the sea fed by the river,
Which will not be moved.
Iraq, the river, the sea,
I am yours--your passages have been paid.
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this death�s dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and no matter what,
Need not be lived again.
Lift up your eyes upon
The night descending for you.
Give death again
To the dream.
Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private greed. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Hang down your hearts.
Each new hour holds new chances
For new endings.
Do not be wedded forever
To hope, yoked eternally
To foolishness.
The horizon leans forward,
Offering you slim space to forge a change.
Here, into the eyes of the Antichrist
You must have the duty
To look up and out upon me,
Iraq, the river, the sea, your cemetery.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.
Here on the pulse of death�s dark night
You may have the nerve to look up and out
And into your sister's eyes,
Into your brother's face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With deep despair
Good night.