American Cuneiform

by Glenn Morazzini

He kneels on a prayer rug of sand,
in a crumpled kurta, hands tied behind his back,
looking up at the lesser gods, his captors.
Once, by the Tigris-Euphrates, his ancestors
sowed the first city, lifted stone ladders,
towers, so gods could descend to teach far-reaching men
the order moving stars, planets and words.

Dressed in fatigues, flak jackets, and helmets
that swell their heads like alien skulls, two
Americans glare at him.  One brandishes an automatic
weapon, explosive branch.  What do they know
about his ancestors, who invented writing, recorded
civil laws, the astronomy of astrology, and wars
with jackal-masked attackers, words on clay tablets
delicate as bird footprints along a broken shore.