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Sunday, June 15, 2014


by George Held

Refugees flee the city of Mosul. The delicately balanced relations among the many communities were permanently shattered in 2003. Photograph: Str/AP. The Guardian, June 13, 2014.

Take it back, we left it,
We will not summon the troops
To fight again for it,
We will not countenance

Another long drawn out
Battle on your homeland,
The corpses, gutted and bloodied,
Strewn, like trash, on the ground.

Mosul is Assyrian, Kurd, Iraqi,
Turkmen, Shabak, Shi’ite, Sunni,
And the oil refinery earns more
Per hour than the marketplaces

For fruits of paradise, leather toolers,
Carpet merchants’ stalls
And sheep-herders’ pens
Combined do per year.

Mosul, you fell in 2003
And now ISIS (not
The Egyptian goddess
of magic and life),

initiates in the sacred order
of hatred and arch violence,
Have achieved the latest fall
Of Cheney and Bush,

Who on 3 May 2003
Declared from ship’s deck
“The Battle of Iraq is over,”
But that mission will never

Be accomplished despite
4,447 American dead,
32,000 wounded plus
Thousands with PTSD

And other extreme debilitations;
Plus one trillion dollars
(Think what this sum could mean
For schools, bridges, healthcare).

Now 68% of Americans
Polled feel no obligation
(<F obliger) to help Iraqis
After we destroyed their country:

No noblesse, no oblige;
No ligature (the “lig”
In “obligation”) tying us
To this desolated land.

Mosul, Baiji, Samarra—
All fall on the road to Baghdad.
(Where are Crosby and Hope
When we really need them?)

Where can we find any hope
In stopping the ISIS advance?
Will the fall of Mosul end
In the union of Syria and Iraq,

A wide swath from the Med
To Iran, the destabilization
Of the Middle East, a threat
To Turkey and Israel?

Where are the leaders
Who can reverse America’s
Knee-jerk reliance on military
Solutions to geopolitical problems?

Is the fall of Mosul a milestone
On the road to the fall
Of (God bless) the
United States of America?

George Held, a regular contributor to The New Verse News, has a new book out soon from Poets Wear Prada, Culling: New & Selected Nature Poems.