At home with a poet
War is over for those who
want it. War is far from over
June 3, 2003
The poet Ali Mashangian shares some of his notes on the recent
war in Iraq:
War brings contradiction. One minute newspapers say: “Bomb,
bomb, bomb.” The next: “Roll up, roll up! Ladies and
gentlemen, meet Stumpy the boy with no arms. Step up and shake your
disbelief, but not his hands – he hasn’t any! Come see
the boy with no limbs folks --- alms for the poor, alms for the
poor --- alms geddit? Roll up, roll up, take a peek at the freak.”
War goes on while people pay off mortgages. Now with no WMDs found
it makes them think: “Gee. Nowhere in the small print did
it say that as a result of working to pay off the loan for my home
I would cease to care about people being blown to pieces halfway
across the world.”
Office tensions, porn channel, STD check, Reiki class, ah yes,
life goes on in the West. Coming home from work pick up the evening
edition. Brown people among rubble. More brown people more rubble.
What is it with brown people and rubble? One follows the other.
I've seen the same pictures in Palestine. Where you see brown people,
you see rubble.
Saddam under rubble? This war led to some distinctly unsure headlines.
Saddam still under rubble says US army chief. Basra falls. Basra
falls again. Basra falls for the last time we promise. We will get
Saddam, vows Bush. I thought we already got him and Basra fell.
Saddam dead. Saddam will be dead. Chief says Saddam in hiding
--- dead. Dead can't hide says Left. Eat shit and die you tree-hugging
appeasers, says Right. “But it’s true, the deceased
do not hide of their own accord,” says Chomsky.
We appreciate people’s concerns about the distortions of
what some might consider fact, says Blair, but the truth is Saddam’s
days are numbered. Basra falls again. Baghdad invaded. Museums raided.
History eroded. “They don't have their own history so they
want to destroy ours,” say the natives. My heart bleeds, says
Precision-guided bomb hit the Mansur district. Mansur himself
had no idea Saddam was precisely behind, beneath or inside him when
he was killed. “I thought I was on my own,” says Mansur.
So do fifteen other souls who now wander the streets in search of
an answer. If the dead can really haunt I hope they visit the White
House. They’ll get past those Arab-proof security checks no
problem. And one night, as Bush is sleeping, a whisper: “Hey,
George, it’s Mansur.”
Right-wing exiles line up to prescribe war. It’s an illness.
The White House rears these drones, deployed to legitimise the onslaught
against their own people by the US. Ahmed Chalabi and the Middle
East experts who lend their support to Bush display no sense of
kinship to their own people. They are, after all, people the US
In wartime experts grow on trees. They do, I have seen them in
the park. There they are brandishing lies where spring flowers should
be. What are you doing up there, I shout. “Don’t you
know? I am a Middle East expert”. But why up there, where
I can’t reach? “Did no one tell you? We grow on trees.”
This war is driving me insane. You can’t even hug a tree
for all the experts in it.
Surveillance is such that soon even sexual technique will be up
for scrutiny. “You are under arrest under suspicion of being
a terrorist. We were watching you last night, you were grooving
like an Arab, and you had his sense of rhythm, his Oriental musk.”
No, it is hate that terrorists make, that’s not what I was
War is over for those
who want it. War is far from over. The slaughter will continue as
long as it is necessary to convince the peanut-brained public that
it was legitimate in the first place.
The next Olympics will feature a new sport: the opinion-pole vault.
The person with the strongest sense of risk wins. Blair makes a
passionate speech, it swings this way. The French say no, it swings
that way. One of our boys is killed, watch how it remains erect.
Peyvand Khorsandi is a writer, standup comedian and former
publisher of E-RUN magazine in the UK.