To Kurdish peoples of undisclosed lands

that were yours by right of blood, the kind

that flows and the kind that spills out.

I write as someone who matters nothing.

Those are the ones who will tell you the truth.

The others will tell you the opportunity

just wasn’t there yet. You had no idea

liberty took so long, not when it rode in

on the foaming Gulf, screaming across

the dusty skies of sun-baked Kuwait.


We really are that freedom we claim to bring.

It was true for José Martí dying under a wide sky

refusing the brutality of a Spanish crown.

It was true for Ho Chi Minh who declared

Viet Nam free by quoting Thomas Jefferson.

The best ideas are like this. They get around

like the loose change in your pockets.

Even Jefferson and Madison found it

circulating unused by royal England,

quoting Locke and Paine and Newton.


You had no idea we were using those words

just between ourselves. It was how we got

the other tribes to play fair. None of them

thought it would ever include people like 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:

brothers and sisters, do as I say, not as I do.

R. Charboneau

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