Eight days after the invasion we were dealing with a country
That could actually finance its reconstruction by our own
Reconstruction contractors. A decade later, and we have a failed
State which is relatively easy to exploit, and that assessment
Could hardly have turned out to be any more auspicious for my company.
We have supplied more than a billion meals and more than twenty-four
Billion gallons of drinkable water, several icebergs of ice,
And everything from bodyguards to power plants and toilet paper.
Facing bankruptcy before, I found myself in the role of adviser
Advocating a policy by which we stood to gain by what ensued,
As indeed was readily understood – if we could only engineer
An excuse, if we could accuse a bastard worth bringing to his knees.
Evil is what is bad for you, said Spinoza. The war did me much good.
Prior to it, I prophesied the profit. Clearly, in my country’s eyes,
I have done my duty, having grown the stronger. And so I am proud
To have effectively delivered all and sundry to our martial forces.
We weathered the vicissitudes of conflict and ended up emphatically
Secure in a hostile climate where there were more private outfits
Plying for hire than in any previous war. A visionary, that’s me.
And my adherents (pioneers) perceive the Wild West as in the East.
Entrepreneurs, committed to development, they lead the way
In advocating the collapse of standards and the instigation of chaos,
Setting alight false beacons to lure your ships of state onto the rocks
From a liberal point of view; their torches freedom and democracy.
On savage shores my people serve the wreckers. Less of an endeavour
Than what was once required to colonise a source of blessed revenue.
Indeed, even our own government is redundant, and very soon we hope
To privatise war itself, just as some are seeking to copyright eternal life.
Anthony Howell, to be published in FROM INSIDE – a new collection of poems coming out from The High Window Press in March 2017