Man in a Hole

The Philadelphia Inquirer
December 31, 2003

Let's not mince words: that's a man,
not a rat. Ratty? Sure.
And, sure,
he'd bite had he
guards and guns,
rape rooms and tanks at his feet;
palaces decked in despot's vainglory; Scuds and the secret police.
But let's not mince
words: that's
a rat of a man
in a hole, not
a terrorist state or
an al-Qaeda cell.
Just a rat of a man in a hole,
not a VX shell or a nuke in a bag.
Just a rat of a man in a hole.
Now the desert is
blooming with
pits in the earth. America's
blooming with holes
in the ground.
In a hole sat Saddam, sham Saladin,
tinpot Stalin, asking: Are the graves
of a thousand young bodies fair price
for a rat of a man
in a hole?

Matthew Hart

Matthew Hart is a native of Britain and a Ph.D. student in English at the University of Pennsylvania.

This is the third of a year-end series of commissioned poems based on recent Inquirer headlines. The original headline, "After long manhunt, a huge payoff," appeared Dec. 16 on page A1.