The Truth James Foley Stood For, a Ten-nos*

James Foley, searching for the truth, a photo journalist,
was murdered in cold blood by a masked IS jihadist,
beheaded on a video in deserts of Iraq,
mercilessly, cruelly, by a killer dressed in black.
The guy who only wanted to expose the suffering
was executed brutally without a covering,
his evil butcher camouflaged behind a veiled cloth,
his vicious killer shrouded as a grim and reaping Goth,
believing in the triumph of a cult of hate and death.
The truth James Foley stood for is clearly under threat.


*A ten-nos, the word sonnet written backwards, is a poem of ten lines (five couplets) of iambic heptameter that I have created. A sonnet is frequently 14 lines of 10 syllables; a ten-nos is 10 lines of 14 syllables.


Upon the Destruction of the Tomb of Jonah

I called out to the Lord. Out of distress I called.
I cried out of the belly of Sheol, Mosul.
The city is transformed, diversity made bald,
with thousands fleeing the Islamic State’s cru’l rule.
I’m cast out of His presence. How’ll I look again
upon His holy temple served up with this gruel?
But I remember then, this is the world of men.
Deliverance belongs unto the Lord. Some will
forsake those who have paid regard to idols vain.
In balaclavas and black coats they’ve come to film
sledge hammer vengeance on this tomb of mine. It’s malled.
O, Nineveh, I wail, what else must be killed?


The Mosul Dam

“Now the earth was…full of violence.”
—Genesis 6: 11

In north Iraq, the Mosul Dam sits on
the Tigris River, capturing snowmelt
from Turkey. On a karst foundation, it
has been unstable since it first was built.
Repeatedly it must be grouted with
cement, because of constant leaks unfurled,
and has been dubbed, perhaps because of this,
as the most dangerous dam in the world.
So when the IS forces conquered it,
there was relief when the Peshmergas pushed
them back, with help from timely, targeted,
American air strikes. That weakness plugged,
it still could generate and irrigate,
and hold the flood behind its line of fate.

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One Response

  1. james sale

    Really like your Jonah poem – some lovely touches in it: the Sheol/Mosul correspondence, the use of Biblical phrases, the consonantal rhymes – beautiful – a really good piece, well done.


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