The Rage of George
Rattling of Sabres
The Gods of War
In the Clouds
The Tyrant Flees
Out of Order
Doing the Patriot Act
The Little Prince
Ichor of the Gods
The Price of Peace
Dead or Alive
Across the Border
Summer in the City
Wolf and Jackal
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closing in from East,
West, and South, vehicles bringing
Fresh-faced boys from Iowa,
From Detroit, sons of Vietnamese refugees,
Chicanos out of Fresno, and New York City Jews
To the streets of Baghdad.
The city’s residents, long suppressed by
Fear of torture, beatings, persecution, loss of jobs,
Once docile and well-behaved in public,
Stream into the streets like frantic wildlife
Escaping from a forest fire. Some
Look dazed, others wild-eyed, many crying.
Strange scenes grip the cobbled streets
Where chaos reigns,
Saddam’s iron hold
Anarchy spreads, looters
Begin to strip the beleaguered old city; mansions
Schools, government buildings, hospitals,
None are safe from the frenzied marauding bands.
The U.S. Army watches, even makes a contribution,
Joins the mobs in a Baghdad city park, covers
Saddam's sculpted face with Stars and Stripes,
Then brings the monumental sculpture crashing down.
The gathered crowd batters the fallen giant with shoes
To show deep disrespect.
Three two-thousand-pound American bunker busters erase civilians
In the effort to “decapitate” the Iraqi regime,
Splatter Saddam and his evil sons to kingdom come,
Turn them to tiny bits and pieces so small
Not even dogs could sniff them out.
But the bombs fall in vain.
Nothing is seen of Saddam, he’s disappeared like a genie,
Having granted its last wish, leaving only the lamp.
Saddam moves among his people, dinner
With the common folk, sharing hummus, sleeping
At a different house each night, and sleeping well
In large part because he travels with his pillow.
His mustache shaved, sporting soiled robes,
Saddam now looks more itinerant than tyrant.
Resembles his uncle Tamir, who in Saddam’s youth
Worked little, brought shame upon his family by his sloth,
Often stole and never bathed or washed. Saddam
Had him killed and fed to Tikkrit dogs.
The disguise works. Unless introduced as
who he is,
No one suspects this grubby, useless-looking fellow
Once held the reins of power so tightly in his grasp.
No one was safe from his tyranny, spies
On every block, within each clan -
Even children recruited as informers.
Saddam hides out by day and
Moves before dawn, avoiding capture.
A network of safe houses, set up by him long ago
Sit just miles apart outside the city’s edge. They
Provide safe haven for a while, small farms or huts
Well below the radar of the clueless Americans.
His latest get-up is the most disarming yet.
A large man, barrel-chested, broad shouldered
Tailors have created quite a fine illusion, made
Easier by the culture’s local native garb - flowing
Robes of black and tight-bound headdress make
Saddam, to all appearance, just an unattractive woman.
His hands demurely held beside his half-covered face,
Madam Saddam avoids eye contact with men, acts shy.
Not speaking, he rolls his eyes instead, nods or turns aside.
Strangers pay him deference appropriate to an older woman,
Don’t speak to him; he seems dignified, composed.
Completely in the role, he relishes his performance.
His last stop on Baghdad’s border brings him face to face
With members of his own army, deserting in droves
Seeking refuge in civilian clothes, discarding uniforms,
Dropping rifles and abandoning their equipment.
Confused and scared, they get lost in all the mayhem
Not knowing that The Tyrant walks among them.
His transport is scheduled for 4 a.m.,
A brand new Ford Explorer will whisk him away
West towards Syria, now his only ally.
Saddam has spent a fortune for a dozen years
Preparing for the possibility that he might travel
Under something less than optimum conditions.
Saddam’s vehicle approaches a roadblock
Manned by U.S. troops, rifles locked and loaded.
The sign in Arabic ahead says ‘Stop. Prepare to be searched’
The SUV slows down and waits for the sentry’s signal.
Waved on, they reach the roadblock barrier,
Saddam looking like his late mother, Sabha.
“Kind of late to be traveling, don’t you think?” they’re asked,
The young blond soldier curious but friendly.
The driver, Saddam’s bodyguard for many years
Smiles at the fighter named Castells on his vest,
Notes his outfit’s clean, not dusty and worn.
Clearly a new replacement, not one who’s battle tested.
“We go out of town, too dangerous,” he
His pidgin English syntax exaggerated with intent,
“Go stay with family in Qasar Hilim. More safe.”
A flashlight shines on Saddam’s face, right in his eyes,
He turns away and blinks, acts embarrassed.
“And you, Ma'am,” Castells says, “What’s your name?”
The moment of truth has arrived, no escape if identified,
Alone on a deserted road in dead of night,
Confronted by a new recruit afraid of suicide attacks,
Trying to do his job right and not get killed. Saddam gives
The performance of his life, real tears, sobs, sniffles,
And hears “OK, move on. Drive carefully folks, goodnight.”