Blackwing X

Then And Now Nightmare Baghdad

The sun set no moon or stars in the sky
electricity cuts not one light was on
streets abandoned dark and desolate
only a couple of wild dogs and feral cats
hide in back alleyway corners cowering
coalition imposed 10 to 4A.M. curfew
shoot to maim or kill anything
with two legs walking

Not a candle glowed behind the black drapes
where desperate people huddle shivering in terror
fearful of letting on the coalition forces
know their morbid dwelling inhabited
thus subjected to break-in house ransacked
humiliation roughed up punishment
shot or swept away...

And with all that hardship they must make themselves ready
to beat the early morning rush hour madness
when snipers kidnappers insurgents suicide bombers
the most prevalent workers in town are on the job

3:00 A.M.

Ishmael professor emeritus a world-renowned historian
one of the finest scholars in the last 5000 years
dean of Baghdad University
terminated from his esteemed position
when Saddam toppled
now one hundred percent hardcore unemployed
consequently lives in dire need

Rising weary from a fearful sleep
about to take the dreary trip
down to the corner tea store
and beg for a few spare leaves
to bring back to the grateful pot
of boiling tainted water
to share with his dear wife Lateefa
and sweet little son Sallam

4:20 A.M.

Ishmael and Lateefa embraced together
with kisses goodbye
this might be the last time they see each other again alive
parting they cried
as Ishmael shuffled out the door
into the cold dismal early morn

Thinking...

“...It seems long ago but not really
as a student studying serious
with some free time in summer seeking people
who enjoy a frolic along the banks of the Tigris
promenades with amusement parks and busy cafes
serving fine North African expresso coffees
with sugary melt on tongue baklava and almond-date cakes

...ah those dreams of yesteryear for beautiful Baghdad
when restaurants were plenty and good food was cheap
tables arranged in grids always packed for breakfast
lunch dinner where cooks would mound high on platters
fresh mouth-watering Baba Ghannouj
with dollops of hummus and sides of Tabouleh
plump olives greens onions tomatoes salads
swimming in pools of tahini dressing...
waiters would shuttle steaming bowls of lentil soup
served with chard and lemon juice
and coming from the hearth of the old stone ovens
piping hot stacks of crusty pita breads
thick with garlicky falafals dripping warm spicy red
and complementing delicious sizzling-crisp
fish shish kebabs ladles of tangy yogurt sauce
with chopped in cool mint and cucumber
a big feast plunked down surprise like in front of your nose
and oh the most exotic and beautiful Arabian gypsy musicians
passing through town filled the aisles
serenading the patrons singing songs with smiles in their eyes
strumming guitars and drumming dunbecks for tips in dinars
and bottles of fertile crescent dark-red Burgundy wine
and if real good fortune is in the Tarot deck
an endless evening of fabulous free love is on...

After hours nightclubs were everywhere
the places would be jammed
dozens of tables lined the long silk tapestry walls
accommodates one to ten with twenty seats or more
each with a grand old hookah placed front and center
stoked with the finest Turkish tobaccos and Afghani kifers
the air was dense with pungent clouds of ganja smoke
euphoria swirling with laces of fragrances
patchouli myrrh sweet rose incenses

And voluptuous belly dancers crowded on stage and floor
shimmying hips jingling little bells charms and trinkets
sewn into see through erotic pieces
arousing the audience of inebriated enthusiasts
men women and children clans clapping chanting
louder in time to the crescendo bursting with laughter
everything ecstasy and festivity day and night
paradise 2----4----7----3----6-----5...

But Mideast for decades was in big arms races
from waging wars with Israelis
then in '80 Saddam plotted dead dead dead wrong
starting war with Ayatollah Khomeini
8 years so devastating humanity was suffering
as things continued spoiling '88 through '91
then Iraq got a 2nd whacking Operation Desert Storm!
Republican Guard annihilated Saddam's armies crushed
thousands more unarmed civilian casualties
an infrastructure decimated our country a complete bust
every other day for 14 years F15's bombed no fly zones
millions beaten down pitilessly from crippling embargo
cancer keeps soaring hospitals void of pharmaceuticals
only shit rank rationed food and contaminated drinking water
no doubt about it with utter contempt for Arabs and Islam
and the lust for owning Saddam's oil
a big USA effort Operation Iraqi Enduring Freedom huh!
collective punishment genocide the vilest infidel occupation
Bush's violent quest 5 years on so sad and grim
but ultimately we Iraqis and Muslims will never give in...”

5:30 A.M.

Dragging up the stairs
the end of a harrowing trip
made it home before sunrise
chore complete praise Allah!
Ishmael avoided sniper fire across the street
one drive-by shooting intended for the police
almost kidnapped (damn ol' brown suit!)
held up at gun point in the lobby vestibule
fortunately so broke just let go...

Finally out of harm's way
wrapped up in their arms
lovely Lateefa and son Sallam
content to sip soon a cup of hot mint tea
and await some news through the grapevine
about the new constitution the one that guarantees
peace freedom prosperity for all the New Iraqis

6:15 A.M.

Sunrise new morning
the start of rush hour mayhem is on!
Ishmael Lateefa Sallam
must shield their ears all day long
the deafening war noises were already blasting
through the dark curtains and windows
when once upon a time
they looked out on the beautiful Tigris river
along her banks were the palm lined promenades
where one would find festive music good food wine
dance romance amusement parks laughter
it was the only way people knew about
it was all about life and the gusto for life
and it all happened in downtown Baghdad Iraq....