I promised myself I wasn't going to put poems on this blog, but seeing as it's 4th of July, I couldn't resist writing a poem about the real currency that greases the wheels of American Capitalism - the trade in war and death. (Not that America is the only producer of death in the world, but it's certainly one of it's largest exporters, and a key source for much of the venture funding the death industry receives. )
"What's an American Life worth
In Baghdad these days?"
I ask the man at the Amex counter.
He looks up at the big board behind him.
They're all there, the numbers -
Chalk outlines of a war long since dead -
Just the major countries, of course,
The little flags and the symbols
And next to them the latest figures
Hot off the press.
Don't be fooled though:
These numbers may look random
But there's no advantage to be had here,
Death is the most efficient of all markets.
"13.92 locals for every American GI"
He tells me,
"Up two points from last night -
It looks like they might be rallying again.
You looking to trade?"
I shake my head.
"You've got to if you're going out there, you know",
"Your life isn't worth anything
Out on the streets;
You've got to show them the colour of their own blood
Before they'll buy it."
"Buy what?", I ask.
"Whatever it is you're selling."
I look him calmly in the eyes and say,
"I'm not selling anything. Except maybe the truth.
I'm not here to trade in calamity."
He shrugs his shoulders,
"It's your funeral", he mutters.
No. I'm just the guy who pays the bill when it's all over.
It's they who arranged it all,
Made all the decisions,
These merchants of War
Who I watch passing by me,
Sipping my coffee in the airport canteen,
On their way to Washington
Or Kabul or Pyongyang
Or wherever else they think
The rates might be better.
Maybe someone should tell them about Hell
- 4th of July 2005.
P.S: As of yesterday's count, 1745 US citizens have died in Iraq since the starting of the war, compared to about 24,300 Iraqi civilians (average of a maximum of 25814 and a minimum of 22787 based on different estimates). Hence the exchange rate of 13.92.