Issue 4: Peter Carpenter

Lines for the Trial of Saddam Hussein

‘this dead butcher’    Shakespeare

‘he survived for days on Mars Bars in his shallow pit’   (CNN)

We had some fun over the years, I admit it. And, yes, I’ll happily

talk you through it: underground facilities, the instruments

of restraint, stainless steel gullies for effluence (ash, fat, fibre

and so forth). The palaces would have stood the test of time.

My systems will go on: the irrigation will allow orange-groves,

fruit to pluck. And some day when you flatten out your maps,

trace supply lines, study my blueprints for the people in the marshes,

it’ll be me you see, like a watermark on a note held up to the sun. Me,

as you sprinkle chalk-dust to dry black ink from the fat Mont Blanc.

I was right.

You may nod if you agree.

I have their names, you know.

The ones who set me up then swung the wrecking-ball, who leaked

the faces of my dead sons. And me, when I emerged from my pit –

incisors inspected as if I were a horse come to market. I allow myself

a smile though at some of you. Twitching like cats in your power naps

as my official face comes out of nowhere into those

air-conditioned quarters.

The advice is simple: don’t flinch –

there are no blows to avoid. Just show due deference, feel the force

of my fingers around your shoulders.

Brace your spine, stand tall,

plant your feet in the sand.

Study me.         

Like so.

Peter Carpenter's fifth Collection is After the Goldrush (Nine Arches); this follows Catch from Shoestring. He is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Warwick and was Creative Writing Fellow at the University of Reading in 2008. He contributed to Ian Sinclair's London: City of Disappearances and is a character in Sinclair's 'London Orbital'. He is also co-director of Worple Press.

Copyright © 2010 by Peter Carpenter, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.