(With apologies to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
July 7, 2006
(FOREWORD: Feel free to distribute this as freely as you wish, but only as long as proper attribution is made, and if you make any money from it, I want some.--Dan Culberson)
Listen all people and you shall hear
Of the midnight flight of George Afeared,
On the thirteenth of June, in double-oh six;
Pulling another of his sneaky tricks
After five short hours he was in the clear.
He said to his pilot, "If the insurgents arrive
By foot or vehicle from Baghdad to-night,
Give me a call or three or five
On my aides' cell phones and we'll take flight,--
One for the money, and two for the show;
Three to get ready and off we'll go,
Ready to flee and get the hell out
Up to the sky and then we can shout,
For the Democrat pansies to weep and to pout."
Then he said "Ta-ta!" and with smirky grin
Proudly tucked his codpiece in,
Just as the moon rose over the west,
Where lying wide on the tarmac crest,
Sat Air Force One, presidential plane;
A mighty ship, with each rivet and stain
Across the moon like a ghostly train,
And a huge white hulk, that had just been in flight
Like an incubus silently in the night.
Meanwhile, his aides through alley and street
Lead him and guide him, with watchful eyes,
Till in the explosions going up to the skies
Cover the stumblings of the frightened man,
The sound of shots, and the oppresive heat,
And the sorrowful wail of torn families' cries,
Brought on by invasion of this innocent land.
Then they entered the "green zone" of the puppet prime minister,
By the safe side entrance, with many a glance,
To the minister's office, as if by chance,
And startled the Iraqis with what seemed to them sinister
Of this unannounced visit with just five minutes notice
From the man become acronymized only as POTUS,--
He was visiting the minister "to look you in the eye,"
And send a signal to all that spirits were high,
Where he paused not once for the next five hours
'Though six had been scheduled for the Baghdad Towers
Saying the War on Terror would never die.
Beneath, in the rubble, lay the dead,
From the IEDs that did kill,
Friend and foe alike and still
This man could say, what ran through his head,
The memorized catch-phrase, with straight face
Masking the truth in the terrorists' race,
By seeming to bluster, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the naked lie and the countless dead;
For suddenly all his fears replace
The swagger and smirk as far away,
Where the river glistens to greet the day,--
A plume of smoke that rises and hovers
O'er the broken city like layers of covers.
Meanwhile, impatient to turn and fly,
Booted and gunned, with a fearful cry
Across the room walked George Afeared.
Now he looked in the minister's eye,
Now he paid full attention to what he could hear,
Then, impetuous, stamped the floor,
And turned and feinted for the door;
But mostly he listened with timid ears
As the explosions continued to feed his fears,
Which rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks in the minister's face
A glimmer, the thought that he must race!
He heads for the exit, then pauses and turns,
And wonders and muses, then continues apace
As a second explosion in Baghdad burns.
A hurry of boots in the village street,
A group in the moonlight, a crowd in the dark,
And afar, from the houses, while passing, a bark
Called out by a dog lying hoping to greet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the bark called out by that dog, in his fright,
Symboled the land with its flames and its heat.
He has left the city and mounted the jeep,
And behind him, turmoiled and broad and steep,
Is poor Baghdad, inside where everyone hides;
And beside the bushes that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Lies fearful The Bush in his jeep as he rides.
It was twelve by the POTUS watch
When he left the tarmac from Baghdad town.
He began to crow of another notch,
Heard the cheering from the leader's dogs,
But felt the damp of the river fogs,
That rise up after the sun goes down.
It was one by the POTUS watch,
When he headed toward Washington.
He feared to have made another botch
Swim in the moonlight as he flew,
And the country below, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already somehow knew
Of the empty visit that was already gone.
It was two by the POTUS watch,
When he fell asleep o'er a German town.
He dreamed of crowing another Gotch-
A! to the twittering Dems among the crowd,
And practiced saying it clear and loud
Blowing his own horn up and down.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
While at the bridge another would fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
And families again would wail and bawl.
You know the rest. On TV you have seen
How the POTUS party fled so green,--
How the insurgents retaliated eye for eye,
From behind each wall against each lie,
Chasing our soldiers down the lane,
Then crossing the ruins to emerge again
With IEDs at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to blow and load.
So through the night flew George Afeared;
And so through the night went his cry of success
To every radio, TV and press,--
A cry of bluster, and not of revere,
A slink in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a ploy that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the wings of Air Force One,
The War on Terror, never done,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The thumping of chest-beats of that screed,
And the midnight bluster of George Afeared.
(AFTERWORD: This parody was constructed using source material from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Dahr Jamail and truthout.org, Tom Raum and the Associated Press, Robin Toner & Kate Zernike and the New York Times News Service, the Providence Journal, Peter G. Gosselin and the Los Angeles Times, Molly Ivins and Creators Syndicate, and AMERICAN POETRY AND PROSE, Fourth Edition, Part One, edited by Norman Foerster, which includes the advisory, "Its historical inaccuracies are unimportant.")