POEM: Iraq and a Hard Place

This poem tells a story — a story of patriotic fervor in slaughtering America’s foes. This story was told to me by a retired Grumman engineer, a literal rocket scientist and career military-industrialist. His story was prefaced by a glorious recounting of developing aerial radar capable of locating and tracking enemy tanks in steep mountain passes. His main event was much less awesome technically, retrofitting a radar system on an ancient airliner to locate tanks in the Iraqi desert. The ancient airliner was much more interesting though. The military contract included the Defense Department providing a 727 airliner — and that they did. They provided an old 727 that had been used to transport cows, so the underbelly was rusted out from urine. I think that the flying cows may have been some intermediary to pigs flying, but that is likely classified. The engineer and his Grumman team retrofitted the airliner with a radar system as the contract put out specified. However, the Defense Department needed the radar system deployed ASAP in Iraq. This was at the commencement of the shocking and awful war. The DoD insisted that the Grumman pilots trained on the system enlist so DoD didn’t have to train another team. The Grumman team dutifully enlisted, enticed by offered officer rank, and were off to Iraq. This is where the action takes off. They were reconnoitering high in the sky over the Iraqi desert when they located a miles and miles long convey of Iraqi military on a solitary road through the middle of the desert. I noted that this didn’t seem to require any great radar technology, perhaps even just a window in the plane. But, I was told that the radar system found the convoy minutes earlier. Regardless, this was perhaps the least overkill of the day. They called in the convoy location. The Air Force quickly destroyed the front and the rear of the column, trapping the entire convoy helpless in the open desert with no air support of their own. This set the stage for unleashing patriotic fervor. The convoy was strafed over and over until they were annihilated, leaving bodies and machinery unrecognizable. Of coarse, this destruction was widely reported in the media to cheering Americans. I am old enough that I remember this firsthand.

What disturbed me the most about the telling of this story was the giddy excitement of being such an “essential” part of such a massacre. If this is patriotism, I want no part of it. I know of no fisherman that would brag of shooting fish in a barrel. And if they did such bragging they would be met with reproach not cheers. Why is it different when hunting humans? I am quite familiar with the arguments for “necessary evil.” Nevertheless, wouldn’t such evil necessity call for more contrite and less trite? While the day tolled may have been epic, the day was not a good day for humanity.

Here is the story inverse:

Iraq and a Hard Place

My shock
His awe
A rock it scientist
Leaning into that
Military industrial complex
A career at Grumman
Billing wore machines
For the feds
Taking out
A contract
Providing for U.S.
A beat up
A rusted belly
Of the best
More sow than 666
Corroded with urine
With err
Lifting cows
And awe the bullshit
That can fly
A fixing
A radar
To see on the money
What goes
Care fully hidden
Weepin’s of mass
Only too fine
Just deserts
And a 20 mile lineup
Of those usual suspects
His test pilot civil buddies had enlisted
With newfound rank
Too fly
Like radar to MASH
Eagle scouting
Fish in a barrel
Secure in their mettle
Assured of Jimmy Walker-ing aweigh
Noble peace price
Like Alfred to badman
Countless arms and soles
Band Aided about
A high weigh
At the mercy
Of the heir farce
Reigning from above
And hell below
Do evil in trap
A plane strafing
Over and over
Agin and agin
Over and over
Agin and agin
Every forward conveyance
Scent backward
Splattered a bout
And resounding SOBs
Bad things that may
Come out of the rear
Know worries
As knows cape
For all in tents and purposes
This Hussein
Roger that
Between Iraq and a hard place
Erect’em for miles and miles
He recounted
A job
Though as Saddam-y
As engine eerie
More Hindenburg than 727
The humanity
Without a hint
Of irony
Missing the clue that holds it
Awe together
On any other day
It might be said
A good day for humanity

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