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Birds on Fire

dreamed 2008/9/15 by Wayan.


I just finished Terrorist Hunter by Anonymous, a caustic, gripping, invigorating book by an Iraqi woman who combs websites and infiltrates American mosques to find recruiters and funders of terrorism. She's furious at the FBI and CIA for hoarding data and actively blocking investigations, particularly of Bush's Saudi Arabian buddies; she considers them nearly as culpable as the terrorists themselves.


Moonless night. Pinprick stars.
We're camped in a grassy fold
on a stony California hill,
in the black fall-chill.

Time to wake our Hero. He
planned our predawn raid:
we'll surprise that hated tribe
holding the hill to the north.

Thrice I whisper His perilous name.
Careful! Don't touch holy Him.
For he's an assassin deeply trained:
slash-prone. Save your limbs!

By my foot, a mysterious red
paperstrip glows like an ember dim.
A magic sword, a folded fan?
He sees a portent--and a plan.

Well, he's our terrorist expert! So
we dutifully cut, tear and fold
a gull-sized paper bird. Then go
forth to raid His foe.

Starlit ambush fails. Awoke
their Hero, leery as a fox.
Tall and lean as a spear he stalks,
Trailing a shy platoon. They go

quivering as He spurs them on,
a bristle of spears, dim in the dawn,
down the fourlane blacktop from
the College of San Mateo.

Our Hero sees mere mice. "Let's strike
horror in their hearts." He lights
the bird, and nods to our own tribe's
Sarge, who sets it aflight.

Flame flutters at the enemy! But
the poor bird spirals down
to fall ash-dead at our own cold feet
Terroring only ours.

Our Hero's falling short, so far.
But their troop inept
lost track of their anointed! We
chase him round a home--

no doors, just archways in a loop. Oh,
round the Heroes go!
Tries to hide, but He's in loud
Renaissance robes, and it's dawn

so a Devious Lurk don't work so fine.
We amateurs finally catch Him, though
our Hero is never much help--
big and muscled and slow.

What to do with a Hero? Theirs,
I mean. Though both appall.
Wake up inexplicably in tears;
blind night. A chilling fall,

and no heroes here
no heroes here
no Saladins
at all.

Sketch of a dream by Wayan: two heroes with spears face off at night; between them, lighting them, flutters a flaming paper bird.


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