Saddam's Final Days
In the end, a "spider's hole"
the coiffed blond newscaster called it with a smirk;
buried alive in a tunnel beneath the desert
where even Allah wouldn't think to look for you.
And what if He did
cast an imperial eye down that ochre hole
to where you were so alone, curled into a ball
reading Crime and Punishment
and recounting cash in the suitcase,
$750,000 in unmarked American currency. O, the ironies
abound to the point of a fever swell;
did you get the chance to think on them
at all? In your desperate effort
to keep ahead of the relentless machine
pursuing you, Allah's favored son,
the supreme commander of
armies and concubines, now reduced
to a dirt well the size of a coffin. What must it
have been like, each dusk when you ventured up for air,
sniffing the dry desert winds like a rabbit
emerging from his lair. Were your eyes ever
unclouded enough to see the stray black bullet holes
in palace windows, English obscenities
spray painted on the marble walls?
When memory took you back to better days,
what exactly did you recall?
Exiled in your own kingdom, exhausted with only Dostoevsky
for company. Did you think of Raskolnikov
pursued by the ghosts of his own obliteration,
or were you better served by his darker brother,
Svidrigailov, dreaming of spiders and angry blonds
pointing loaded pistols at your head?
-- Tony Magistrale