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Sunday, June 04, 2006


by Gary Beck

Mogadishu, Mogadishu,
you have almost been forgotten
by our leaders who sent soldiers
( seeking glorious victories )
to patrol your poor, dusty streets
and tremble in the rains of evening
from tropical disease, or fear,
dazed by one more unclear mission,
dumped on our obedient troops,
ordered to build a quick triumph,
so D.C. strutters and prancers
could boast their boasts and brag their brags
that the administration kicked ass.

We saw action, Mogadishu,
but once again we sailed away
on sullen ships that knew defeat.
Movers and fixers surrendered
( they always do when things get tough )
‘cause they didn’t know how to capture
the gangster, tyrant, war-lord, thug,
the uncooperative foe
who would not let the boys and girls
of Washington, D.C. look good.

So we landed on your beaches
crammed with the waiting media
equipped with cameras, mikes, lights,
greeting our surprise invasion.
We couldn’t turn back with CNN
directing us to storm ashore,
their instant satellite transmission
displaying the troop’s deployment
(that only took six weeks longer
then the troops in the Crimean War )
to a hundred million viewers
watching our embarrassed leaders,
caught once again with their plans down,
who chose to sacrifice the lives
of G.I.’s who followed orders,
rather than admit they were wrong.
So the troops were ordered ashore,
fought off media resistance
( refusing to land one more time
to give viewers better footage )
and took minimal casualties
from the international press.
We marched without the faintest clue
where the hell Mogadishu was,
but we lucked out, for CNN
cut to its commercial break
and missed our heroic capture
of the Somalia dispatcher
of the local cab company,
who not only took the short cut,
but charged us out of season rates.

Every foreign correspondent,
even the cub from the Tribune,
and one hundred million viewers,
through the courtesy of CNN,
knew the expedition arrived.
But there wasn’t a single link
on the rusty chain of command
with common sense enough to say:
“I’m sorry, sir. They know we’re here.”
Even general whats-his-name
who we were supposed to arrest
( or was it bomb, or execute?
The orders never were quite clear. )
had concessionaires on the beach,
selling souvenirs to the troops.
But we couldn’t billet the soldiers
in beautiful beachfront hotels
( even though it’s out of season
and they offered us tourist rates )
without orders from higher up.

Traditional rooters who loved
frequent failures of the U.S. of A.
chuckled from hooches, tents, shanties,
snickering at our willing troops
marching to a police action,
pursued by hordes of at-risk youth
demanding the usual pay,
the American subsidies,
gum, chocolate, cigarettes, and coke,
promising in return their best wares
shoe shines, virgin sisters, great dope,
the usual native exchange.

Now warrior Bill took D.C.
just promoted from C.I.C.
of the Arkansas National Guard,
ready for foreign adventure,
grasped the big picture at a glance,
inflated for authority,
reddened with exasperation,
glistened with anticipation
gained from motel campaigns
at the head of his state troopers,
bellowed with combat assurance
to the combined wisdom of D.C.,
“What the hell do we do now, huh?”
Both Sonorous and Clamorous
orated at length from the floor
and Sonorous requested peace,
but Clamorous demanded war.

So Bill and Hil went up the hill
to fetch some help from Congress.
But Bill fell down and broke his crown
and Hil came tumbling after….

There we were deployed for battle,
with tribesmen to the left of us,
and tribesmen to the right of us,
and the U.N. all around us.
CNN reporters were poised
to describe to the world our advance
along the Boulevard of Broken Dreams,
as we entered a new city
that sure wasn’t American,
so all the destruction was foreign.
Now that doesn’t mean we believe
that underdeveloped nations
need extensive devastation
before getting reconstruction,
but if you want us to rebuild,
we first have to blow everything up.

( With diverse methodologies
that assault with technologies.
The selection is enormous,
without long lines, or other fuss )

We offer smart bombs, laser bombs,
A-bombs, H-bombs, cluster bombs,
fragmentation bombs, broadway bombs,
racial discrimination bombs,
mortar bombs and pestle bombs,
even ultimate doomsday bombs.
There are bombs that make you happy,
" " " " " " wheeze,
" " " " " " grouchy,
" " " " " " sneeze....
There is nothing quite like a bomb.
Nothing that can compare with it.
Nothing that even competes with it.
Its explosion is detonous.

So we were tortured by tse-tse’s,
mutilated by mosquitos,
made delirious with desire,
polluted and prostituted,
then we were driven mad by you,
our treacherous Mogadishu.

Gary Beck’s poetry and fiction have been published in numerous literary magazines. His plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes, and Sophocles have been produced Off-Broadway.