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Viral Poetry as Protest

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As recently as 5 years ago, Iraq enjoyed a vibrant coffee house political life.   Political poets performed their work, the work was memorized and  repeated through the country.  Sometimes these poets faced political retribution, but not before the sentiments had been spread through the country.

We must mobilize on all possible fronts to support and defend the Iraqi people.  If you are moved by this poem, repeat it freely, at soapboxes, in coffee houses, in local newsletters.

Alas, Babylon!

Alas, Babylon!
Hear me Ashurbanipal!
Where are your gardens,
your cradle of civilization?
How many coins, how many souls,
how many ferries across the river?
I see the nameless bodies
that bloat and tangle in the reeds
as they make their sad passage to perdition.

Alas, Babylon!
Hear me Melpomene!
Do you sing lamentations for the wailing woman
who eats the bitterness of despair,
who rends her garments, drops her stoic mask
and lays a fragrant wreath
upon the body of her beloved?
Do you hear the cries of the orphans?
Do you hear the screams of the maimed?

Rise up, O Babylon!
Hear the pleas of the innocent dead,
raise your voices in glad defiance,
vanquish your vainglorious foe
and his love affair with oppression.
Taste the sweetness of the dates,
sway in the grace of the palms,
sail again the waters of the fertile crescent
and know peace.

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Eileen is a mother, progressive activist, artist and poet in the Greater Seattle area.

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