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Poetry

A Civil Farewell

for Saddam Hussein, Executed, 29 December 2006

Jay Rubin

I watched it tonight on my 20-inch screen:
With loyal Iraqis sound asleep,
Rifles and weapons tucked by their beds,

A solemn Saddam stood with no hood,
Prayed with a rope at his throat.
The platform fell, his body dropped—

His neck snapped like an olive branch.
Now Shi’a rejoice in the Sadr City street.
Is this less civil than a crowd of Parisians

Shaking their fists as the guillotine falls,
Uncrowning the reign of Louis XVI? 
Is this less civil than English Roundheads

Watching the axman wield and chop, lopping
The mop off the first King Charles,
His royal blood staining the first few rows? 

Is this less civil than a runaway slave,
Whose quiet corpse rots on a vine,
An ocean away from his sub-Saharan hut?

And what of a sudden surge of voltage,
A sniff of cyanide—a look, a stare,
As lethal liquid halts your heart…?

Peace, I say.  Salaam, Saddam.  Adieu.

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