Slouching Towards Baghdad

I go downstairs.
My neighbor's feeding fish heads
to some local dogs.
I find my car.
The day's hot enough to
glaze pottery in the back seat.
I start the engine & crank up the air.
It's running hot.
I flip on the radio. Static.
U. S. bombers leave a vapor
trail in the cloudless sky
as they race toward Baghdad.
People on the street look up dazed.
At the corner, a dangerously pregnant woman
stops in the center of the busy street
to do a body count of her growing family.
My knuckles grow white on the wheel.
I miss the light.

Hot. No wind.
The car's a jar with a lid.
I crank all the windows down.
Try to cool off.
Trees on the street cringe
from the heat. Birds have stopped
flying, instead they huddle
in melting pools of color,
grey, brown, and black,
heads bobbing slowly.
Next to me on the car seat,
a half-eaten chocolate Hershey Bar
has exploded.

All that is plastic is devolving
into petroleum ooze.
Touching a nerve,
fillings in my teeth are burning.

Rounding a corner, the asphalt's
melting---heat ripples rise
as if from an Iraqi mirage.
I eye the ageing buildings on this
block--- dying Victorians---blemished,
battered, broken & bleeding.
Queen Annes once filled with splendor
now crammed with growing families,
that spill over stoops, ramble down steps,
& scatter into the street, where they spray
each other down with water hoses.
Young men with lupine smiles wait & watch,
as emergency sirens scream around the corner.

It is too hot for the fat red spiders
who now sit in heat shock----watching
the death dance of the web-caught flies.
So these street spiders are in no hurry.
It is too soon & too hot for them to dine on me.
They will wait for an unguarded moment.

High Noon in L.A. & another kind of war rages on.
Ahead----two snarling men charge
from trucks, it’s all about a parking place.
They fight in the street. Bone & flesh collide.
Teeth snap. A dog charges and enters the fight.
All in all, it's a day that causes
bankers & accountants & ordinary men
to break cue sticks over bald heads.
A day so sweltering so humid---so hopeless
it boils common thieves too scorched to steal.
On this day---shrieking babies are smashed
against cement walls, Christ’s name is spat on,
& ruefully married women sharpen serrated blades
& stare fixedly at the underbelly of their husbands' throats.
I see hawks sitting in the shade of hemlock trees
considering possibilities. I feel the weight of the
pistol in my pocket & I smile with anticipation.
Because it’s a day for ancient insults to ooze up.
A volcanic day for getting even,
and for settling festering scores.
A day for payback
A day to unleash the dogs from hell
A day created to crush spindle & mutilate flesh
A day for deathblows & raw agony
A day designed for vengeance.
A day to use baseball bats in alleys,
A day to swing socks filled with ball bearings.
A day for reprisals by the damned
A day when little men exact their blood revenge
A day named after mayhem & conceived
by whores & born in the slaughter houses of tomorrow.


Steve De France
Steve De France is a widely published poet, playwright and essayist both in America and in Great Britain. In England he won a Reader's Award in Orbis Magazine for his poem "Hawks." In the United States he won the Josh Samuels' Annual Poetry Competition (2003) for his poem: "The Man Who Loved Mermaids." His play THE KILLER had it’s world premier at the GARAGE THEATRE in Long Beach, California (Sept-October 2006). He has received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Chapman University for his writing. Most recently his poem “Gregor’s Wings” has been nominated for The Best of The Net by Poetic Diversity.