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Note: This poem is featured on the Born Beneath an Angry Star chapbook, available now.

Evil to him who evil does.

"Someone please call 9/11 ..."
Never thought they'd see the day,
gleaming spires of commercial dominance,
lying shattered on Vesey and Church.

The pendulum swings back,
remembering Tuskeegee, Nicaragua, Iraq, Laos, the Sudan.
This bed was made in the USA,
stands ready, pillow fluffed, sheets pulled down.
We'll leave a light on for you.

Huddled in dim corners of Kabul,
a millionaire desperately dodges accusations and bombshells.
The moral majority stumbling around in a confused and angry haze,
cast dirty rhetoric on his name,
desperate for a boogeyman,
ignoring proxies passing out weapons of discontent
to villains of tomorrow,
funded by exemptions on form 1040EZ.
Massa wants to "hunt down and punish" with "acceptable losses,"
so many say "This does not happen in the United States."

Evil to him who evil does.

I stand apart from vortex of news cameras and rescue workers,
freelance deadlines unaffected by pre-empted programming.
Like devil's stained blue dress,
I'm unable to divert conversations from morbid examinations
of New York geography
or bitter talk of bombing a 19th century country into stone ages.
Criticized for my indifference,
I stand in a circumference of humbleness and wait for this to pass.
It's none of my business,
focused on wife and spirit and family.
Being an old Southern boy myself,
chickens coming home to roost never did make me sad.

The pendulum swings.
Schoolkids gaze through egg smeared windows,
wondering why momma's hijab or how daddy prays
mean they should go "back" to a country they've never seen.
Nervous shopkeepers smile extra wide at customers,
cataloguing every angry glare,
every customer who parks and never comes in.
Those who don't buy the goodness of Amerikkkan pie
hold tongues in teeth,
afraid their viewpoints will be called seditious,
lead steel-toed agents to their door,
suppression in lenses of mirrored sunglasses.

How many months was it into Senior Shrub's rein when
the company's pet dictator rattled his saber on cue
unifying voting public against
a country armed with US weapons?
Funny coincidence,
his son's questioned reign "challenged" by an all new brand of warfare,
prophecied in popular fiction,
broadcast on every frequency,
a spotlight shone into every home.

I feel sorrow for families of the slain.
I feel trepidation over the next moves of
people who don't care what I think.
But I can't say this was unexpected,
can't tell you this was any more wrong than
ordering a man's bedroom rained on by smart bombs.
Whether oppressor worked for US Army, Dow Chemical or Maxwell House,
the faces always looked the same.
Scales seek balance.
Unexpected surprise when racial profiling
is more relevant with C-4 than nightsticks,
but evil goes to him who evil does,
and pendulums never play one side more than another.

By Hannibal Tabu

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