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Friday, March 09, 2007


by Robert Anbian

Yes. Hello. How are you? What’s the news?
We don’t have electricity, there are bombings and
shootings, what are you talking about?
Yes. Early this morning. Assassinated. Yes.
These are the fruits of democracy…rubble, tanks,
barbed wire.
No, the bodies are quickly removed.
Take a breath. Slowly. Open your mouth.
People are not going to Friday prayer, afraid of
explosions or arrest.
As for my leg…the doctors cannot do the surgery.
Yes. Helicopters are flying over the city, above the
Brother, I recorded everyone in the neighborhood with
chronic disease, everyone too old to walk, the
orphans, the wounded, the maimed, the released
prisoners, the widows.
Excuse me, brother, we recorded them day after
day…they never stopped….
We tried to give everyone something, a bit of food,
medicine, a blanket, or hope, God willing.
Why shouldn’t we help them, even if they are three
hundred or three thousand or three million?
Brother, tell me, do religions preach injustice?
Do they call for killing, raping, and abusing other
I tell you, brother, my leg hurts but my heart hurts
My leg turns gray but my heart turns black.
My brain is always pounding.
Don’t listen to the news reports, brother.
Don’t listen to the exiles in Amman or New York,
or to the people with too much money.
The inhabitants of Falluja are suffering shortages of
drinking water, food, medicine.
The American Army forbids entry.
Nobody sees, nobody hears.
Falluja, Ramadi, only a short time ago the Americans
never heard of them,
now they must possess them at all costs.
Our doctors were bombed out the first day.
Over 100,000 people fled to Amiriyya.
They brought with them the sick and wounded,
what belongings they could carry.
Tell me, brother, when can I ask George Bush why he
sent soldiers all this way to kill Iraqis and destroy
their homes?
Saddam Hussein killed many Iraqis,
so the Americans say, kill more Iraqis!
The foreign jihadis kill Iraqis,
so the Americans say, kill more Iraqis!
I ask you, brother, where is the justice in a bomb?
Where is democracy in a hail of bullets?
George Bush can say what he likes, but he cannot
control the situation.
He can bring war, but not peace.
He can say ‘freedom’ but no one feels free,
even to venture into the street or onto his roof.
They call the main street here, ‘Vietnam Street,’
and the graffiti says, ‘fake USA.’
Well, they don’t have the spelling down to say ‘fuck
so they say, ‘fake USA,’ okay?
I tell you, the word ‘democracy’ will bring a bitter
taste to Iraqi mouths for generations.
Yes? No! Yes! What can we expect?
We are an occupied country with a puppet government.
Open your hands. Close your hands.
We won’t vote for anyone from outside,
no matter how many car dealerships he owned in
Honestly, extremism turns me off. People should be
moderate, live and let live.
Even now, we see ourselves as a civil resistance.
But when they bomb you…moderation is the first thing
to blow up in your face.
Then how can I neglect my brother?
We have the same religion, the same country, we drink
water from the same river.
Even our blood is the same.
How can my brother’s life not be as sacred as my own?
God has entrusted us with this country.
How can we let someone steal it?
Yes, I need to eat, sleep, stay alive.
Take a deep breath, please, yes, thank you.
Open your eyes. Open your mouth. Exhale.
Peace be upon you.
Brother, you ask me if I can go on living in this
and I say, yes I can.
My daughter says, please, there is no country. Our
country is lost.
My wife says, don’t be suicidal!
My Iraq, my Iraq…
God willing;
God willing.

Edgetone Records is releasing the poetry and jazz CD Robert Anbian and the Unidentified Flying Quartet this April. Robert Anbian has published four collections, most recently WE, Parts 1 & 2 (Night Horn Books) and the chapbook Blame the Powerful: Political Poems (War and Peace Press). His work appears in the anthologies Beyond Lament: Poets of the World Confront the Holocaust (Northwestern) and Practicing Angels: A Contemporary Anthology of San Francisco Bay Area Poetry (Seismograph), and in periodicals including City Lights Review, North Coast Literary Review, and the online Rif/t.