Being a meditation on the comings and goings of late in Arabia and Mesopotamia, and the significance of the number six, with apologies to the late, great E. E. Cummings.
So long Saddam Hussein Al-Takriti That name has a good ring to it, doesn’t it? But most of us know you As just plain Saddam
Your regime lasted 24 years That’s quite a long time as dictators go Two years longer than Mussolini whom the people done strung up good and true, Double Hitler And about as long as Your hero Jo Stalin But not as long as Franco Or Salazar Who fell off a deck chair and lost his mind They still brought him papers to sign Until they decided one day To pull the plug On his life support
The Americans came in from the sea And with them — oh my gawd! — the post-imperial Brits You would have thought in Iraq That they’d have learned their lesson In 1920 But no.
You came from Tikrit Originally But now You’re gone.
Or maybe not. For I hear You wrote a letter On your sixty-sixth birthday (just the other day) Exhorting your people (sic) To rise up, Something you would never have allowed During your time In the gilded palaces
The pen is indeed mightier than the sword Osama (the bogeyman before you) prefers Video But then I suppose he’s a bit younger than you A true child Of his time The television age
That is a difference Between him and you But there are Uncanny similarities: You’ve both vanished Into thin air After working so long For the CIA An occupational hazard, It seems
Your top goons made a deal And will, it is said, become citizens Of the United States Some say meanwhile You’ve gone to Switzerland To rearrange your face Isn’t it ironic That in your time You had the faces of so many others rearranged Now you pay To have yours done
Switzerland’s the place Where people like you Keep their stash of loot So no doubt You can still afford it
Along with The six point six million Americans Who had cosmetic surgery In 2002
Osama (if he’s still with us) Has to spend his money On kidney machines But you, You always looked pretty healthy I have to say
One way or another I don’t expect to see your face again On TV Or on posters But maybe we’ll meet Some Sunni day In Oklahoma City Or somewhere along Route 66
For it’s odd how the Gulf Wars Bring floods of Iraqis To the United States They call it Open borders
There you could melt Into the crowd Just like John Doe Number Two Or you could become A lone nut
Will it be you who takes out George W. Bush, Who has a knack for making history And has produced a road map? But they say he does not read Either
Who knows? Maybe even Time Will never tell
So long, Saddam!
Richard Wall (send him mail) is a freelance translator, specializing in the social sciences, who lives in Estoril, Portugal.