My job…? To observe from the front and report back dispassionately events to be digested over biscuits and tea. My public satiated on death, destruction and me.

I duck as glass hurtles earthwards, shattering the uneasy calm, indiscriminately terrorising people nearby – who pull back hesitantly – wide-eyed collaborators. Man ahead staggers, literally, bent arm withdrawing so all can see the feckless bombers calling.

A girl giggles on heels too high bent low in skirt loud with naivety, whilst cluster bombs crunch underfoot and fashionable footwear straggles a drunken gavotte…a leg here, an arm there – coming together – cellular compote.


Tracer arcs the Arabian sky, fire crackling where once stood Toyota spy. Noxious rubber fumes billowing heavenward in Pyrrhic victory, an offering to the Gods of brutish history. Present in heads full of yawning blackness (The Gulf) that education tried to span…, ‘Thankyou mame’.. But lost, like King George 3rd to the Wrong Empire. (Ironic isn’t it)


“Wa yer lookin at? You piece of dog-shit pie”
verbal tracer hitting me in the eye…

My mistake. Avoid all eye contact in downtown Basra…

And on English streets from Poole to Blackburn miasma.
“Get stuffed you toss-pot, fuck off nobhead hotshot!”
Screams line of female R.P.G’s in reply.
I duck again, just in time, as crossfire intensifies and heads are rocked by explosive shockwaves (definitely not Motorhead) mocking thrills and assassination leys.

A male body attempts to rise from pavement opposite, all shadow and short-sleeve excrement, but sprawls with oath in self-hate pools, sucked in the embrace of alcoholic stupor…Despairing, crushed under Free-Market rules…

(Though in Al Fallujah, no life at all, beneath Abrams track thralls)

                                                                                                                      
In dusty tight-packed alleys around urban Sunni sewers, I watch as Star Wars trooper delivers weighted blow to matchwood door…A ‘snatch-and-grab’ operation – one of many; forceful, coercive policing – immense resources bleeding. Ancient wooded splinters fly as brave new flag holds out to Moon-breeze sky (a sickle moon)


Man in northern town under endless lighted takeaways raises arm from street, screaming facial obscenity – head lost in haze of imbecility.

                                                                                      

“Wankers! Fucking Wankers!” A selfless utterance without thought or remonstrance.
A misdirected act of arbitrary bestiality, perfect for an exploding nonentity.

But in Baghdad, another man looks for talking apparatus in street littered with all manner of appendage, silently frozen, his eyes speak volumes.
Of conspiratorial common-sense in broken operating rooms.

Whilst travelling morgue attendants bustle and bulging bin-liners perform hip-walking ‘hustle; (red smudge slimed across sunrise floor)
“My jaw, My jaw” pounced he with glee looking and hoping amidst human debris. A quick sluice down then snapped back in place.
“Ah what joy! To talk without slipping”…
Till radicalised Merc, parked in disgrace, blowing exhaust fumes in every direction, announces to world by inhaling – a mission that Glory attained is simply a twisted ignition!


On cold-slab floor our ‘lucid male’ is an earth-bound spore – a fungoid shape washed up on a tide of excess….A couple stumble by, voices raised like sharp knives, waiting for an opening to plunge, deep into soft tissue. They stop, he, twisting her head round, heels scraping, a protesting spark awakening…

“You fucking bastard!" She shrills. Thwack! His fist connects and down she spills. Crack! Again her head unfills on concrete, her consciousness leaking…his boot poised and creaking…

A Goyaesque grin of playground madness; a senseless mask of malevolence, unknown by he but slinking off in lupine glee.

Juvenile eyes follow judgementally – harsh – like the neon (and just as cold). Woman comes round and driven by chill mists of alcohol, continues her carpet ride to ladette oblivion. A dark tunnel visionary.

                                                                                                                        
Upstreet, our garrulous blob leers by finger signing his friendly intent to take us mining….”You’re dead fuckers…You’re goin’down!”

Well, he nearly did as two passing males in black leather frenzy weighed-in with footwear on ecstasy,
arms akimbo like Wurzel Gummidge’s nintendo.
We look on impassively as ‘blob’s’ reduced to less than mortality.


…And hearing those sirens wail once more, earth shaking to crump of rocketry in Sadr-City bayoux. I duck instinctively as earth rains down.
Another day’s limbs lost and found.
Within my camera, open to view.
Is this a bomblast…or a broken curfew?
Iraqi death squads…or an English street coup?

 

P.N.Ellis

 

*

Note: “RPG” means  “Rocket Propelled Grenade” 

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