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Paradise and Inferno


the dog watch
safe house
outside the gate



The Americans storm their mile yield

They have come not to make

but to give the gross formation
of his terrible goods

his overwhelming economy

It is the cause of victory
against adversaries of every kind

This is the time of the migration of birds
to the marshlands

Ahead there are new formations incoming
Divine justice spurs them

Aircraft strike one to one
the signal air without stars

wings in cold time to wide and full formation

The city is already gone
abandoned to pain and rubble

You will see behind
the long draft of those who have lost everything

people between exile and displacement
those who have left every hope
They are dust
each alone nearby the others

They come drawing troubles
from the almost dead

and more than a thousand shadowed monsters
or monstrosities unnamed

Those who cannot be consoled
now the no longer gentle sky rains

Who is it that can hear
this sad chorus of harsh languages?

Those that had reasoned this commotion?

I have heard in the heard sky
his adorned word

and the President saying gentle and flat
with his slow voice

I have your word your very understanding
Let me finish my Father’s work

This is a man ennobled though without high talent

thinking himself heir
of an empire that owns the empyrean sky

Satellite images
lay out the whole planet before him
as from a high mountain

Geophysical features
the movement of troops

supply lines
words in typeface upon a page

The ire of God continues
over video reportage

Again they come to the ancient place
without understanding

such that another’s misery may not touch them

It will visit us by proxy

television faithfully imitating every cruel movement
until we also are removed from you

The Oil Ministry guarded as the library burns
and the museum looted of seven thousand years

Who will hear?

Those embedded -
fixed firmly in the solid mass of the army?

We are given reportage that is fixed in a viewpoint
from within the machine itself

That says ‘this is what you shall see’

that implies being on side
remaining on side

So your assigned commander
has brought me also

to this dark place

where headlines and truth meet only in irony
a bloodied mess in my hands

becomes a mob stoning a suspect
or white goods shouldered through broken windows

a badly burnt child with both arms amputated

We touch the world of blood
a dark coast where thinking is consumed
- perverse in ways that still offend

So we descend this time
through approximated light
to view not representation but storage

Certain things may need explanation
photo credits map references   silences

the glyphs as they appear are lost to language

hung from ropes in the darkness

Some recognized saw and knew the shadow
that is contrived to generate and preserve blame

Saw the tired virtue as an excuse
that arranged the President’s words

Ramps that curve gently down
to suffocating depths

to fumes and heat

where locksmiths and metal workers generate objects
that speak

Clearly we are not machines

but inescapably a form of speech
consigned now to indebtedness



We enter those woods
from their ragged edge

some to gain
the shelter of trees

others are hardly aware
how they enter

at night
the darkfold  trees over

starting a journey
of uncertainty

on paths lost to memory

each step
more obscured
more overhung

As he leaves the sunlight
doubts emerge

what will happen?

This from all overtaken

armies move
in the pale bleach of desert

Sexed up the dossier
is released

on the first turn
viral fear
an aspect of means

carried into press conferences
introduced into others
a pathogen

He is unable to find the path now
self disappears into shadows

and the trail is taken up
by news reporters

Still spin

in hindsight. Far away
the uneven pelt  of words

published as statement
that relieves fact from uses
current skin

Minister’s Statements
Parliamentary committees

Reports that surge by:

a low functionary
no expert

all chillingly predicted

And so dark evoking

Alone under the quiet
to find death in the woods

And dead you emerge
finally out of the trees

(in memoriam David Kelly)



from this first Tuesday
it doesn’t matter about Ohio

it never did except for this

The white picket fence remains
and beyond the pale

one hundred thousand Iraqi dead

(not small sorrows)

If such people have much value
it is as the end consumer

from the ace
to the bottom of the pack

(for we must never mind the cost)

they  have felt the presence of large shadows

a semblance of birds
given the weight of Industry


A single voice under the blind world
of Abu Grahib

many times to the fact saying less


I never

I was duty bound

This does not save you

Nor being new in this state that force arouses
regarding order as grounds for doubtful comfort

And in the painful abyss
you may discern the same thing

the long way of tears
even without the martyrdoms that others enter

If such people have much value
it is that they are manipulable

the bottom of the pack

expendable once the work is done
the full deck of images collected

While behind

shrewd as glass for your defects
the expert torturers lie

What did they say

Why did they do what they did

not enough lost and so many offences

Tell me
I am wanting of that faith
that gains in error

or turns on the anguish of the people

That anyone would willingly

Others may know the place
where pits uncover
the slack cream of a shoulder

that speaks a covert repose

eye movements become a film without sound


If I collected myself as a person
I saw only in part
and it was cloudy beside other certainties

Why batter at the door of faith
or demand other sons and daughters

they will come

Mothers cry
return to me the high sleep of his head

What gap have we fallen into
a moment when everything seems to stop
and then start again

Our way here from sleep was not long
we passed the hard earth
of nearby darknesses vanquished

going so as not to debilitate others

But it passes
the indecision

Do not dispute what you feel

honour the fear
that will turn other ways

Across the shadow of the first relative

first I will and you will be second

Others near
are become people
with late and serious eyes

shaved and with gentle voices

Why not say of these

Rise up
relieve us of our infinite troubles all undead

In open places see how many become luminous
with the sign of victory crowned
while grace acquires in the sky

Beautiful citadel
of high walls, defended around

fire will enter me
and shake the birds from the sky

Save inside how quiet

to adore
the certainty of God



In the hard margins
where only river water saved the banks from fire

watchful under the waning moon
(that ruin in the flank of the sky)

I do not dare come down to the road
but use the extremity of a high crane

to look over
broken hotels and bridges

al-nasr al-tair shines

as I survey half of the malignant field

the deep sink that cuts across the open area
the bridge they have to pass

these unrefined ones
all also watching

the great stinking swamp of fear
around the city

wondering which of them
will it arrest point


And if misery renders us desperate
War had name
and in its life gained fear and reputation

flatteries and falsehoods
that we half believe

shadows running from a horde that passed
their haste to hypocrisy

that thieves those she honours
names you of all

and if the reputation yours after you
leaves unpunished

our swindled and bitten conscience


how many cautious men are near

take the signal
that l master with the eye

I swear to you I see through
the large and dark air to notice one figure

elsewhere sight
right ascension

I find the time no-go to gauge lost

stepping on
you do not see me

but even I am watched
above me the two sentinels shahin-I tarazu
bear faint witness

It was not that who gave the neuron path
to my prosthetic nerves

we were marked

quickly eyes and hands
nerve facing
the wind drift before it twitches

a Lyrid shower briefly radiant
that turns to infinitesimal


leaves to go the trace
where close to the end walks experience

back and chest
both the painted coasts broken skewed

I eye them
placed by its master

within his mildew breath drowned

this coast of blood
in which bubbles violence
spurs the short life and the eternal
until slowly it embraces the converging worlds

And the face?
it was face of a man

just that
a pale store clerk
an entirety of words and blood

You want faith
I testify

I guide your condition

I attend to your dreams


The dog watch

Turn your thought to what was closed

an underworld of eternal trespass
where all is confused

Give me the means to enter

my eye guided to the split screen
it watches this misrule

watches this unpronounced sentence

through corner positioned cameras
showing wide angled

images from the control room

Watches with disinterest
cold with brutal accuracy

watches over
those lost to the world

how they enter this hell
who if any they might trust

as the camera does

without judgment

as they come in    dumb
held low to the painful step

just another eye to watch over them

to observe violations of the code
contrary to every rule of combatants
see those not entitled to the protection
of conventions

Already as we look their first year
lies under the second

Each day the same

without the repeated call to prayer
penetrating the day


After so many solitary months
on concrete

short-shackled to any imperious new favour
to every place it takes them

they enter into dead flat fluoro light
buffeted and without sleep

Already they seem mere shadow capacities

Pallid and worried   filthy naked
even their being alive intensely offends
gives clamour for life departing

Place the hood
so they may feel the guidance of volts

the knowledge of their sins

it demands resistance
like drowning

Unable to look I am moved to search
among the tears

water tinged with cold and grieving

As soldiers place a strap

the calls you raise

are of minor pain
but many times turned to fear

They must be infidels
that can do this

More than a thousand shadow fears erupt
monstrous and inhuman

life leaves

plunges to trouble


So who do the doctor’s serve in this?

Coming in to tell of the limits
of human endurance

touching the world of blood

The doctor   he reached to me
and nearly unmanned me

Dead we lead to one died
who attends a life extinguished to us

Our perversity
at still seeing the appearance of a good person
a just person who honours science and art
with a manner unable to offend

So don’t tell me the glassy truth
it is too late
for your affected smile
animal grace or benign visits


Life returns in little exit fold movements

You are in front of the ruin
a human rendered compliant becomes

only the meat remains of a body
lamenting  bestial  unclean

Voices come to speak

but when in the sweet world we speak
you do not respond
nor look directly at us

we no longer believe that words from us
will open doors

The press of us in malignant air
breathes evil

the saliva of dogs makes us unclean
and closes the door upon the sweetness of prayer

Mouths opened and monstrous
make cruelty three headed

From the quivering throats of the dogs
another offence toward the truth of blood  

open selvedge this aloneness

Not knowing where and when
inside the singing throats

they will be allowed
their mordant intention to fight

If you are
given the truth down his throat 
you are unmade and made


Look as the camera looks
faithfully recording
all they say and all they hear

of strength and abandonment

the ace
and a lot held low

reduced from the knowledge
of the everyday

the possibilities of the divine

Nothing guards this inside fidelity
the impious now enter

that use the secret door of men
for which there is no lock
and still the key is found

We gain new unwanted understandings
of self

as tormented carnal without talent

of this of that  of less

Here is a man full of vanity
seated behind a desk
all quantity

power the reason they submit:

Damn him
a sexual predator

At which point was he was degraded?

He asks:
Do you remember speaking to me?

About the one who risks fighting
and broke off faith to the guilty time

the other who denies fighting
and will allow privilege for that
and see love turned

You will see when they will be nothing

nothing near to us


In here
prayer and knowing both confuse

Do not enter
we each go alone to vicissitude and judgment


I warn you
I have no need to stop persuading you
it is true that on the prod

you will open to me before organ failure or death

There is no might or power except with Allah


The superficiality of bone

There is no might or power except with Allah


Blood trails along the floor
There is no might or power except with Allah

techniques that reduce you to a fleshy pulp
There is no might or power except with Allah

Take your time to tell me the truth
I’m in no hurry

I’ll go hunting along a topic
play with you
hang you like game
with blood dripping from your nose

Then we can start up all over again


What deformed births
have these confessions been given?

Tell me
I am no longer able to volunteer veracity

They write what succeeds
without the heart to correct themselves


And then no desires
that day when all is confessed

we did not read ahead to you

but fell as the dead fall

prayer is better than sleep

a body
packed in ice


safe house

I was myself too much with crowds
Endured new people that gain in
pride and generate excess

who told me words I believed

I’d foray half awake
fearing little outside

and you see less
I did not know  that

Submerged flatteries

greased informing
other people’s swindle or fraudulent possession
down the river we came

(sold down the river)

I’m noticed of course

movements out of the green zone
that make me
souvenir of the ancient world

trust and invisibility
lacking with the heart denying and swearing

Their customs are forbidden you
I did not hide

ears and mouths open
was this me?

a door into silence

as they came hunting


from formaldehyde belief
the cement factory rattle
everything settles into its smeared glass reflection

the cliché that changes everything

slow slow hours
extinguished from all you leave here
and elsewhere

I am awake

I made no sign of wanting to speak

Instead into the silence
the clamour of what I should have done
this trickery should hounds me

into the unquiet silence

Have my rebellion from me
it does not weaken what has already happened

I hope only to carry these hurting limbs
and to escape scorn


Nearby movements
A man’s left foot twitches


I am arranged in on those spaces
reductions here in the low hell
that is mine

I see only

the silent suggested burr of night
its muezzin darkness

for hours I fix my eyes on a crack

When everything lines up
it shows occasional deviations of starlight

that relieve the black jolt of fear

behind me
then a retracted tread outside the door

someone else lives here but
is not seen

instead I hear
at the door
or beyond the wall
the place they go to wash themselves

to recommence as we remained
or wait

Emptiness turns in me

How many touches
How many hours go by

Knowing the end may be
to be walled in or shouldered into the earth
not even for martyrdom
but expediency

that without guilt makes shame
the night shadows go some
attack fear

I appeal to my captors
those that win
he who does not lose

Speak to me
the people will see this

What do you want?


the centre
the high point

where the angel of god
does not leave you
all the night 


words cut and do not hold

careful how they are listened to
another breathes here
inside and behind that wall

every risk a necessary hurt

My cure is to be concealed

I close my eyes and curl in on myself
(back to himself hides)

while the guard doesn’t even turn away

they  answered really to scorn you
another day they will answer they do not know

and I do not know either

I feel of little worth to them

weighed against the broad ransom of foreign policy
a foothold in Central Asia?
The last of the oil revenues?

But my captors keep me alive
I cling to that

I am filmed with a newspaper
and a gun at my head



and things move also on
even abandonment loss irretrievable helplessness

for the extreme you do not leave your wish
reaches the broken one who cried

(not recognising himself)

but I do not believe
that worthy people
have returned

and into this waiting

I pray they will be quick



outside the gate

Don’t tell me
hold your doleful thoughts

(it seems so long ago

Only outside the gate does law succeed


doves call
with wings rising to the safety of their nest


It once briefly held the earth (this law
the incoming attorney-general now corrects)

After this is over we may speak
in graphic isolated hands

and cry less than you think

My love your martyrdom to weeping
no longer has the possibility to make me sad

(hold still while I dry them
eyes that have reddened in this coarse wind)

Without words what can be said
of tears and invitations?

From our first love I have lost affection

We have both lost

that time when we were young and healthy
without suspicion

lost our days for delight

When love disappears
it is replaced by survival

We may question
if it is possible to be set free

before the body leaves
imperative of many favours
to luxurious defect unfit

broken off
from liberty and happiness in its law

I console myself  - only a point was won
but it was a point that won us

Concede the mouth you kissed now trembles
already mourning

this is not after all a ghazal

constant in its endings

Now given pardon
I would test with a head of rain

another country a long time away

anonymous as men in the rain pass quickly
touching small futures in their living


Notes on the stars in eyrie
al-nasr al-tair from Arabic The Flying Eagle the star Altair (alpha Aquilae) and shahin-I tarazu from Farsi the stars Alshain and Tarazed (beta & gamma Aquilae) all in the constellation Aquila

embedded, the first poem of the sequence was originally published Famous Reporter 27, June 2003