To Kurdish people of undisclosed lands

that were yours by right of blood, both the kind

that flows and the kind that spills out.

I write as someone who matters nothing

to you; those are the people who will tell

the truth. What the liars will tell you is

the opportunity wasn’t there yet.

 

You had no idea liberty took so long;

not when you’d first learned of it

riding in on the foaming Gulf

and over the skies of dusty Kuwait.

We really do, really are that liberty

we claim to bring; this is absolutely

the case. It was true for José Martí

when Cuba wanted freedom from Spain.

And when Ho Chi Minh declared

Viet Nam free, he quoted Thomas Jefferson.

 

Ideas travel like this all the time,

like our most unimportant currency;

one sometimes glances at a penny

and is surprised by how old the date is.

Jefferson and Madison likewise

received it from Europeans.

You had no idea, either, we were

using those words just between ourselves;

it’s how we got each other to play fair.

But nobody thought it included you.

 

On behalf of one who does not matter,

I’m sorry you had to be another

overhearing what was not meant for you.

But take heed of another saying of ours,

a curious placebo for good intentions

always uttered with a sort of wounded pride:

“Do as I say, not as I do.”


R. Charboneau

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