Notes may be found after the poem.
Manadel al Jamadi
I have heard
them coming, with booted foot
dysarthria become to them
a thing of
for hours it
seemed I might escape
with only a
shocking—mangled hands and feet,
power to destroy mansions.
visit me again
opaque disaster pouch,
and blinding teeth
for pix which
you can download here,
O, how I am
changed, changed utterly
to a strange
fashion of forsaking.
but look at
me: head frozen skyward
weighed down with ice
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dysarthria - difficulty pronouncing words as the result of damge to the central nervous system
Manadel al-Jamadi - Information from Wikipedia
Manadel al-Jamadi (Arabic: مناضل
الجمادي) was an Iraqi prisoner who was tortured to
death in United States custody during interrogation at Abu Ghraib
prison in November 2003. His name became known in 2004 when the Abu
Ghraib scandal made news—his corpse packed in ice was the
background for widely-reprinted photographs of grinning U.S. Army
Specialists Sabrina Harman and Charles Graner each offering a
"thumbs-up" gesture. Al-Jamadi had been a suspect in a bomb
attack that killed 12 people in a Baghdad Red Cross facility.
Are people going to get hurt? Yes.
Are people going to get killed?
Yes, they are.
Innocent people blown to
smithereens? You bet.
Thousands of them? Sure.
fascinating but cryptic
candor, conjured from verbiage opaque
like satanic Latin
decline from fair
but let us try to clear the air
He retains an air
What I want you to know, and then
I’ve got to go,
what you must know is that I
just don’t know
the soldiers know—boy do they know—
and what I’m hearing from them is
it’s hard work
it’s hard work and it is
it’s not easy work
Hey you just asked that,
and I answered it to the best of my
ability. And I’m not going to
answer it again.
although it is a
very vague modesty
What’s MY job? Well my job is to
know; to predict; and to direct.
Can I really do those things? Can
anybody? Can you?
Let me just put it this way: it’s
my job: it’s what I do.
is wide and long to tread,
hath a greater compass
men can know:
For mine is the drowning of bodies
in the sea;
Mine the prison cell remote;
Mine is the strangling, and
lynching by the throat;
Mine is the insurgent whisper
The plotting and the poisoning of
I do revenge, and punish openly,
And I dwell in the sign of the
I am SATURN
Mine be the contagions,
And all the wicked plots of old.
My very look engenders pestilence.
So weep no more: I’ll give it all
Why does it say Saturn there?
Because I ripped that off from
Chaucer. that’s why.
It’s a war I’m telling you.
You see, there are choices,
and every choice you make affects
all the other choices you make,
including the ones you might have
on that day
or the ones which on another day
you didn’t make.
Can’t you understand that
there are known unknowns and unknown unknowns?
Can’t you grasp that simple,
elegant, vital truth
and put it in your mind, and think
it, and see it, and feel it and know it,
and know that it’s true?
This is a war.
Is there going to be blood? You
know there’s going to be blood.
Sheets of blood? Yes.
A fucking flood of blood? Probably.
Children dissolved in acid? Guts
hanging out of the burst-open
and other bodies like burnt bacon
hanging from bridges? Probably.
Is it worth it? You bet it is.
Do I have dead baby parts in my
and in my eyes and underwear?
Do I drink wine from children’s
Are my testicles full of blood?
Does blood stream from my nipples?
You bet it does and I’ll tell you
I AM MOLOCH
Moloch - Old Testament deity to whom
parents sacrificed their children.
DEATH OF THE
Say I died not on the field of battle—
I never fought—
but under the wheel’s foot.
It was fairly routine.
I mean, I understood the drill.
C’est la guerre.
On the other hand, the entire thing
was an exercise
with a very low probability of success.
I had no curse at the ready
no blasphemous jarhead’s bitch
with which to consecrate or bless
the almighty IED
but just before the flesh was burned
and blood pumped into the ground,
waxing (you will say)
I named my rifle Durendal.
Medicine (just then and there)
was a pretty backwards affair:
I stuck my hand in paradise
and woke up with the birds.
‘My lady, about your sending me up to the
heaven of Anu your father:
My lady, there was only one god who sat
bareheaded, blinking, and cringing at the assembly of the
‘Go, seize that god and bring him to me!
Ea, his father, sprinkled him with spring
And he is sitting in the assembly of all
the gods bareheaded, blinking, and cringing.’
--The Marriage of Nergal and
A quavering voice belies the killing soul
that stalks within my lady’s iron breast
I hear the sclabbering claws, and hear
when, gargoyle-like, she is at rest.
The placid drone that marks her piano
masks a lust for instruments of pain
which conjure screams from mouths of
That is sweetest music to her brain
She with her world-travel and her lust
and her lies!
The man she plays and drones and quivers
though she thinks him a god, is an imp.
Her two eyes
are witching suns
her fingernails are churning blades
her teeth are battle-axes charged with
Her hair a metal helm,
her breasts are burning villages.
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Elephantine lobe devoid of wit
Opulent pig brain
Excusing none from the table of death.
What else do you remember?
Before the feast, I remember
Salivating thanks were given.
Hellish, blinding fire rose up.
Just moments later always I hear
Returning ghostly voices, cracked from
ear to ear.
Nov. 23, 2003
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