Guantanamo this time with cover art
For over a year, I've had in my possession a copy of TIME magazine which focuses on the detention and interrogation of prisoners held captive at Guantanamo. And it has long been my ambition to write a poem about this.
However, despite having thought about this for more than a year and a half, I have never, until now, found a way to get started.
My initial idea was to write a poem which focused on the realities of being caged in a concrete box for year after year. But how would one go about writing such a poem? And, if written, who would want to read it?
My own experience of incarceration is limited to spells of no more than five days at a stretch. Not comfortable days: days spent tethered to a drip stand, with nothing by way of a view except a prospect of concrete. But, although I have that lode of personal experience to draw on, I still could see no way to write the poem.
Then, recently, I noticed on Google News that the Americans are going to put a young Australian on trial. This is a guy they have been holding without charges for five years. Five years, if I do the arithmetic correctly, is precisely 365 times longer than each of the spells of incarceration that I went through.
This is a guy who converted to Islam and then joined the Taliban, and he is now going to be charged with war crimes.
That really got me thinking. Exactly what the hell is he going to be charged with? What is he alleged to have done? Did he drop incendiary bombs on the city of Dresden? Was he one of the organizers of the massacre in Shanghai? If the case really does come to trial, what will the evidence be against him? Exactly how many Vietnamese villagers is he said to have herded into ditches and then shot dead?
For some reason, the news about this one particular individual threw the situation into focus for me, and I found I was able, at last, to write my poem. So here it is, a poem which I will be adding to the book that I have in progress, GENGHIS LOTUS POETRY COLLECTION, the artwork for which is sitting at the top of this blog entry.
The poem is about Guantanamo, the place otherwise known as Gitmo, and it is called, quite simply, GUANTANAMO.
Here is the poem.
The white rat Guantanamo is,
I have decided,
An enemy of the state.
I have incarcerated him
And hold him incommunicado.
For this reason,
There has been no bombing in the city of Boston
All summer long.
The white rat Guantanamo
Is an illegal combatant,
Leagued with the cockroach and the termite.
I have no evidence of this,
The World Trade Center
Must not fall again.
In the days of Saddam Hussein,
America was afflicted by trans fat,
Bubonic plague and leprosy.
With that rationale,
We made war upon Iraq,
And purged the planet of our discontents.
Righteous with victory,
I lord it over Guantanamo.
He annoys me, at times,
With his unrelenting squeaking.
He wants a lawyer, a court hearing,
And a list of the charges against him.
Oh, and a bill of goods, that, too:
You know, the legal thingy,
The document which lays it on the line,
Which sets it out,
In black and white,
Exactly what it is you've gone and done.
All that he wants, and more:
Free movie tickets, vanilla ice cream,
And Cuban cigars.
Well, dream on, Guantanamo!
That he misses his wife,
That his elderly mother,
Who is not in good health,
Is surely soon to die,
And that his children
Are growing up without him.
Well, squeak on, Guantanamo!
Would distract us from the purity of our purpose.
That there are other issues:
Genocide in Darfur,
Burnt rice in cooking pots in China
And the self-starvation of fashion models in Brazil.
You know the drill.
But I, I am committed to my plan.
Stay the course, that's my thing.
While the white rat Guantanamo is incarcerated,
The world is safe.
And he is paying the price
For what was done to us.
Thousands dead, the falling hundreds
Leaping to their doom.
Well, someone must pay for that,
And, to tell the truth,
I'm really not too fussed about
Revenge is a dish best eaten
Any way you can get it.
Charlie Chaplin, Mickey Mouse,
The supreme commander of the Klingon Empire,
Or Eva Braun.
Anyone will do.
For the time being,
All I have is the white rat Guantanamo.
And that, for the moment,
Is all I need.