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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p.m. precisely, French doors open
And a confidently striding Saddam enters.
The Breaker of Men walks in the lead, his sons
Walk behind in silence, wives in arm.
Beaming broadly at the luxurious table
They take their seats, Saddam the first to sit.
At the head of the table, sons on either side,
Saddam waits while the others are seated.
He smiles warmly; it’s been a while
Since the family sat together, it’s not often
That Saddam has had the pleasure
Of sons, grandsons and granddaughters.
This get-together is no small feat.
They have billions, but are in hiding.
America has been hunting for them, though
Saddam believes that Bush would rather
Pretend he’s dead and leave well enough alone
Rather than subject himself to world-wide opinion.
All seated, quiet, the group turns to Saddam,
“Let’s all join hands,” he orders lightly. The group
Does as he asks; they learned years ago
The high price of disobeying, their pets tortured,
Slaughtered before their eyes, amid intimations
Such fate might await them all.
Saddam begins his solemn invocation,
“Merciful Allah, I thank you for your blessing,
Surrounded by my sons, their wives, their children,
I am yet humble and thankful. To sit here,
Comfortable, safe and entirely secure
Fulfills my greatest dreams and hopes.”
The room fills with chatter,
Servers surround the 16-foot mahogany table,
Pouring water and champagne as the room fills
The first course is served:
Dungeness crab from Northern California,
Baked in puff pastry, light cream sauce on top.
“Our hosts have outdone themselves,”
Udai pipes up, looks to Saddam.
They’ve eaten well in North Korea,
No surprise what four billion dollars can buy. Using
Corporations set up years ago by Arthur Andersen,
Saddam can have anything he wants.
Removed from the table, the plates
Are licked clean in the kitchen,
Scraps of crab or pastry quickly gone.
Raging diarrhea soon follows, but
The dishwashers consider it small price to pay
For their only real job benefit.
“Yes,” Saddam nods while sipping champagne,
“They are most cooperative and gracious.
Of course, without me they’d have no nukes.
A million here, a million there…voila! A Bomb!”
They all laugh at his use of French. Without
French technology his money wouldn’t matter.
“That Kim is some thing else, though,”
He adds, tearing bread off a baguette.
“Yeah,” says Udai, “Love his hair!”
They joke at their host’s expense with
No fears of surveillance. Sweeps have been made
That guarantee their privacy.
The second course arrives,
Endive salad, with a lightly sweetened
Balsamic vinaigrette, cherry tomatoes
From Provence, and duck breast,
Smoked, sliced thin and seared; all tossed.
The smoked duck’s succulent, like bacon.
“So Udai,” Saddam sounds serious,
“I have a question.” Still chewing,
He stops talking for a moment, swallows,
Takes a sip of water, and still silent,
Wipes his chin with his silk napkin. “How much money
Did you remove from the Bank of Iraq?”
Udai, mid-mouthful, thinks quick.
He is suspicious of his father.
It’s likely Saddam has the answer,
Is testing him to see if he’ll be truthful.
Udai has skimmed billions from the treasury,
But does not know for sure what Saddam knows.
Saddam looks in his son’s eyes.
He knows Udai is a psychopath, can’t be trusted,
He also is aware Udai has been skimming,
While in power in Iraq, treasuries built by oil
He let it go. Things have changed, Saddam
Needs his assets.
The Stealthy One picks up his fork,
Prepares to stab his next mouthful.
Udai mumbles an answer. “What’s that Udai?”
Probes Saddam, “I can’t hear you.”
Udai clears his throat, turns towards Saddam,
“A billion dollars, give or take,” he says.
“One billion,” Saddam repeats, “One
Are you sure?” Udai hopes the other billion
Is his secret. Swiss accounts are untraceable;
So he’s told by Swiss officials. “Yes,” he says,
“One billion is quite close,” turns to his salad.
“One billion,” repeats Saddam, “One billion.”
“You lie!” Saddam screams, and swings his fork;
Gold tines plunge through Udai’s right hand,
Into the mahogany table, where
Like a tuning fork it sings a note, B-flat.
Everyone’s attention turns to Saddam,
Who leans back in his chair.
Udai, turned pale, makes no sound.
He turns to his father, redness spreading,
A round stain beneath his hand.
Saddam goes on, his manner quiet,
“I know about the Swiss accounts, the other billion,
I’ve always known…who do you think I am?”
He laughs, reaches across Udai’s pinned hand,
Grabs a fork from Udai’s place and stabs his endive.
Chewing, he turns to the others, and stares.
They sit silently in dread, wondering
What follows this act of violence, if
They will make it to dessert.
“My son does not appreciate his father’s love.
Despite my tolerance and acceptance,
He acts as if I am a common man.
This family rose to power through intelligence,
And I will not let it fall stupidly from power.
But because you are my son, Udai, I forgive you!”
Saddam beckons a server, gestures to his son
Whose trembling right hand is still pinned. “My son
Has not finished eating. Bring him another fork.
Enjoy your salad Udai. I believe you are left-handed?”
Saddam laughs, then the others laugh, including Udai,
Provided a new fork, he proceeds to eat his endive.