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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Gold Tooth and his band
Fierce fighters faithful to Saddam,
Are in Fallujah, north of Baghdad,
Where Baath party members and Sunnis,
Enforcers of the fallen fascist regime,
Form the core of loyalists to Saddam.
Iraq's collapse means little to these men;
They need no guidance or control.
They fend for themselves, seize what they need.
Official orders are not required. Their targets
Have not changed: traitors to the cause,
The disloyal and the weak.
No need for uniforms nor rank, the Fedayeen
Move among the people in civilian clothes.
Americans, cannot distinguish them,
And the collapse of the state apparatus
Makes it near impossible to confirm identity,
Or a connection to acts of sabotage and murder.
The coalition dictate outlawing most weapons
Is an inconvenience to Gold Tooth, little more.
Grenade launchers, once widespread
Are available at good prices, and small arms,
Pistols, knives and land mines are
Easy to obtain.
As electricity has slowly been restored,
Gold Tooth and his men have been busy.
No sooner is it back on line and working, than
Gold Tooth and his men destroy the power station,
Strip it bare of copper, jam tools into turbines.
The work is hard, but it’s a living.
Sometimes a satisfying operation comes along,
Torture and assassination, in which his men excel.
Those seen as collaborators are targeted,
Their families threatened, children kidnapped.
When released, they’re missing an ear,
A pinky toe, tip of a finger, to remember.
The occupiers are treated to stronger measures.
A young recruit from Boston directs traffic,
He wears white gloves for visibility.
His movements are crisp, well-practiced,
The cars and drivers obedient.
A shot splatters his brains across the turn lane.
Another U.S. soldier in a Hummer,
Sits at the open door in conversation,
His mid-western grin shines white,
His hands gesture wildly, animated.
Laughing, helmet off and on his lap.
Gold Tooth’s bullet rips out his throat.
A checkpoint guard checks paperwork.
His manner businesslike and polite.
He even tries to master the language,
Out of respect to Iraqi civilians. He
Wants to protect them from harm.
A grenade blows off his leg.
Gold Tooth gets no credit, wants none.
It’s a mission to be done, God’s work,
He suffers no regret. He has
But one complaint, his teeth are rotten.
The pain increases every day. Lacking
Proper tools, he cannot solve the problem.
Fever sets in, he needs medical attention.
The local hospital is under American guard, but
He does not think his face is known,
And desperate for relief, he approaches the entrance.
The Americans, uneasy due to recent killings,
Are tense and scrutinize all comers.
“What?” asks a guard, trigger finger ready.
Gold Tooth, cheek swollen, points to his mouth.
“Tooth,” he says, “Infected, need see doctor.”
“Search first,” interjects another guard,
Gesturing that Gold Tooth raise his arms.
Gold Tooth forgets the knife tucked in his belt.
The first guard grabs the knife.
The blood of victims stains the leather grip.
“This looks like blood!” the guard exclaims.
“Keep you hands up,” yells another guard.
“It’s for my protection,” Gold Tooth says in perfect English.
The guards eye him with suspicion, guns pointed.
Though his use of English is infrequent,
Gold Tooth can sound American
And speak with a flawless Chicago accent.
“Your English is pretty good. Where
Did you pick that up?” A senior guard asks
While another talks on the phone.
“I spent time in Chicago as a boy,” His tooth throbs.
“I really am in pain, and I have a fever.”
“Hold on, Chicago, we have a job to do.”
The guard looks Gold Tooth in the eye,
“About this knife.” His blade bears blood
Of many dead GI’s.
“We’ll keep this knife,” the guard
“Give your name and address, and it may be returned.”
Gold Tooth knows about the test for DNA,
His connection to dead soldiers.
He tries to come up with an answer,
But the pain’s so bad he cannot think.
“I’ve...no real address,” Gold Tooth stammers
“My sister’s house is rubble, the mobs
Took anything of value. How long
Will your DNA tests...I mean, research...,” he stops.
“We said nothing about tests, sir.” A gun
Sticks in his ribs.
“I’ve done nothing,” Gold Tooth protests,
“I need a doctor.” “Relax Chicago.”
The senior guard smiles while
Plastic cuffs are placed on Gold Tooth’s wrists,
He’s escorted through the door, a doctor
Takes a look and shakes his head.
“I’m no dentist,” says the doctor.
“This man needs some penicillin, and we’ve none.
Take him to one of your medical facilities instead.”
The senior guard turns to Gold Tooth,
“Well Chicago,” he says, “Looks like
You’ll get a chance to practice your English.”
They walk out, and a Hummer
Swings around the corner to the entrance.
“Get this guy to a med station,” says the guard.
“He speaks English, maybe we can use him.
We found a big knife on him, stained with blood.
He seemed nervous when we talked about it.”
Gold Tooth’s mouth stabs with pain,
Knees weak he slumps to the pavement.
“Shit!” yells one of the guards,
Takes one of Gold Tooth’s arms, and lifts.
He’s placed in the Hummer, delirious
Mumbling about Sayyid Qtub.
“He’s mumbling.” says the driver.
“The infidels must die!” Good Tooth yells clearly.
He begins to lunge about, his feet kick wildly
In all directions.
“Lets go, “this guy's delirious.”
The hummer quickly speeds off
around the corner.
Gold Tooth awakens in a military hospital.
Swollen face, groggy, but no pain. He tries
To move his hands, but they’re bound tight.
Cotton curtains shield his view. He
Falls back asleep, feeling good
But weak and tired.
He awakes again and sees three people.
A white-coated American doctor,
A U.S. military officer, and a thin young man
About 25 years old. “Well,” says the officer
“What do you think? Take your time.”
“I need no time,” the thin man cries, “It’s him!”
“We must be sure,” The officer is firmly polite.
“It was long ago.” “I’ll never forget that face, but
Pull back his right cheek. Show me
His teeth.” The young man
Is agitated, looks almost frantic.
“He should have gold teeth on that side.”
Gold Tooth smiles, his capped teeth glisten.
The young man lunges at Gold Tooth,
Held back by the doctor, he can only yell, “He must die!”
“He’s an assassin! I must avenge my father!”
The officer turns toward him. “He will
Be brought to justice, I promise.”
“Hello little one,” Gold Tooth still smiles,
“You’ve grown!” The young man is crying,
“I’ll see you die!” “Perhaps, little one. Perhaps.”
Gold Tooth remembers every killing.
Though it happened many years ago, he recognizes
The son of a victim.
“That’s enough for now,” intones the officer,
“Keep this man bound and under guard.”
He and the young man walk away.
Gold Tooth’s been caught, but he’s resourceful.
He’ll recover, then make a plan. “I’ve escaped
From tougher spots,” he thinks, then falls asleep.