On the ancient road they travel from Baghdad to the west,
Where a hidden well of water spills from a wall of clay,
For centuries the caravans have paused to take their rest,
And camels watch their drivers as they eat and drink and pray.
It was at this hid oasis as the winds began to cool,
When the elders of the company sat round to brew their tea,
When the dancing glow of firelight replaced the sun so cruel,
That was the scene that first I saw when the company saw me.
They beckoned me to join them with hospitality,
The fire was warm and comforting in a night of desert chill,
They bade me sit and gave me meat and sweets and minty tea,
I bowed and sat and set to eat with gusto and a will.
“Oh stranger”, said the chief man then a smile on his face,
“Why do you come arrayed in warrior's dress,
To cross the torrid, shifting sands to find us in this place?
My brothers want to give your neck a scimitar's caress.”
My heart then raced, my hands grew cold and face began to pale
The company leaned forward then with all intensity,
Attention bent to hear my words that answered with my tale,
And if they were not satisfied it meant the end of me.
“They sent us for a sorcerer with a magic cedar box,
An evil man of magic craft blackened as he sinned,
His chest was full of evil spells of pestilence and pox,
With which he sought to win the world by spreading on the wind.
“Oh, Brothers, we have fought our way from Basra's swampy marsh,
Northward we drove his armies out upon Euphrates' shore,
To his palace on Tigris water we won with methods harsh,
We searched each room, cranny and nook ‘til we could search no more.
“A trace of him we did not find, nor of his magic box,
Into the air as though a bird the sorcerer had fled,
Nothing had he left behind, no pestilence or pox,
And nothing then was left of him to know him live or dead.”
The chief man laughed a vicious laugh, a sneer upon his lip,
“I know the magi that you seek, the Evil One of fame,
A man of such great magic power to smite all thigh and hip,
Such a man is widely feared, and Saddam is his name.
“He stood behind his palace wall and saw you at the gate,
He stepped upon his carpet then sat on cushioned chair,
No matter how you threatened him he knew you came to late,
With box upon his knee he spoke a spell and rose into the air.
“He dwells with Devils, Imps and Djins, his evildoing host,
Forsaken are his palaces across his native land
But cowers he not in exile upon some distant coast,
He waits, and not too patiently, out in the desert sand,”
The Chief then paused his right arm high, I saw the scimitar,
“ A swift and certain ending. Not less will serve my guest.”
I saw the box of cedar then. He'd left the lid ajar
While pox and pestilence took wing, a-flying to the West