Baghdad

And the dawn stretched its wings over the hunter
And the hunted. An orb of fire, blinding rays on
Ancient sands. Adamant, with hate and fear in
Lovelorn eyes, their assault rifles chambered, the
Checkpoint harrowing; storm troopers that cleave

Black death upon command. Whereon a cryptic
Hatchback appeared on the horizon, the red dust
Swirling, evanescing were the sallows, the imploring
Bleating lamb. Repeated orders to halt were all in
Vain – a runaway ghost ship, the mind implacable;

The saw-scaled viper lurking beyond the vortex of
The interrealm – inexorable the shades of Babylon.
Wherefore sings the sparrow, when lovers fade into
The maelstrom? Where do the old men sigh, when
Naught is left but the blackened plains? The echo of

Three warning shots, one ricocheting off the ground
And penetrating the chassis, with the deranged driver
Continuing to accelerate; until the order was given,
With the entire unit unleashing a barrage of automatic
Weapons fire, the vehicle transformed into a howling

Hearse of blood and flame; still were the meek and
Callow – smoke and the primordial hand of war – a
Lonely wind where dread silence reigned. Surrounding
The smoldering wreckage, they aimed their weapons
At the heathen, only to find two little boys, a middle-

Aged man, and a young woman who had been going
Into labor – her frail distended body ripped in twain by
The monstrous fusillade. No mind glimmered inside that
Tomb of unspeakable carnage; unborn the flaxen prairie,
No Saladin ascending in the half-light. The ghastly mien

Of the lifeless – death’s unvarnished shroud – were all that
Remained to greet the liberators. And the sun bore down
Upon the demon and the damned, American boys, raised
On flags and the devil’s screen: they were unmoored from
The eye of reason, they were engulfed by the drowning shadow.

David Penner has taught English and ESL within the City University of New York and at Fordham. His articles on politics and health care have appeared in CounterPunch, Dissident Voice, Dr. Linda and KevinMD; while his poetry has been published with Dissident Voice. Also a photographer, he is the author of three books: Faces of Manhattan Island, Faces of The New Economy, and Manhattan Pairs. He can be reached at: 321davidadam@gmail. Read other articles by David.