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.