Waiting for the Petunia

For Venezuela, Iran, China and Russia

Introduction:

From May 24 to May 29 four of the five Iranian tankers bound for Venezuela reached port to supply the country with 50 days of gasoline, purchased with gold. Both countries are under crushing, illegal, US sanctions. The sanctions have killed 100,000 Venezuelans in the past few years; US-backed wars and sanctions have killed hundreds of thousands of Iranians since the popular overthrow of the US puppet government in 1979. The US sent warships to the Caribbean and threatened attack if the two countries went through with the transaction. So far the Iranian tankers have been successfully escorted by Venezuelan navy ships and fighter jets.

*****

— Is it there yet?
Just about every hour Luz wants me to go online and check.

I answer,
— It doesn’t say. Just the Fortune and the Forest.

— Where is it?
— Out there somewhere. It’ll be third…I forget, what are four and five?

She recites,
— The five ships are the Fortune, the Forest, the Faxon, the Clavel, and the Petunia!

The Petunia is her favorite tanker.

I found an aerial photo of the Fortune at sea.
It looks gargantuan, trudging clumsily through the ocean.
Not at all like the carefully preserved tall sailing ships of old,
The ones my stepnephew Tony used to captain,
With their proud sails and intricate rigging,
Neatly cleaving the water, leaving frothy white wakes.

The tanker looks more like a huge piece of ocean junk,
Stirring up the sea, spoiling its surface, raking the waves the wrong way.
But now, given their mission, the tankers are ugly beauties.

Beautiful too are the tankers’ escort of Venezuelan fighter planes,
Russian-made Sukhoi-Su-30’s and some old F-16s.
Bright yellow and blue Venezuela flags are painted on their upright tails.
They fly in deep blue Carribean sky, dotted with clouds.
(Unseen are China and Russia, which have their backs.)

As my friend Bill said,
— Today the Empire blinked.

When the Petunia docks, Luz and I howl with delight.

Two tankers to go.

Roger Stoll is a Latin America/Caribbean solidarity activist with the Task Force on the Americas, a three-decades-old anti-imperialist human rights organization. He has published articles, book reviews and political poetry in Dissident Voice, Resumen Latinoamericano, MintPress News, Black Agenda Report, Popular Resistance, Counterpunch, San Francisco Examiner, ZNet, Jewschool, and New Verse News. Read other articles by Roger.