Smoke Signals From the Frontier


How should you proceed when your country has lurched from dictatorship to full-blown democracy practically overnight? I have, to that end, scooped up the following queries (in some cases, the questions below have been excerpted, but never censored) and tossed them in my mouth, ingesting them, like a pill. And I allowed each of the following questions to take my body hostage, to rappel down the length of my spinal column, to waft through the mucific corridors of my vital organs—until I was finally able to pen an answer that qualified as “the truth.” If the veridical nature of my responses serves as a plangent rebuke to the broadband propaganda currently choking up our communal air, so be it. But the principal impulse behind this project, of course, was to incite a dialogue between the Iraqi and American people. A kind of reverse interrogation, if you will. Only, in this case, the gun pointed at my head was my own. Therefore, it goes without saying that if heroic puissance were my conatus, I wouldn’t be alive to type this. The gun was loaded. The failure of nerve, regrettably, all mine. Please do not let my cowardice be an example to you.

I would, in closing, like to express my gratitude to Rahbiya Swadi of the Institute for American Iraqi Relations, for her superb—and alas, gratis—translation services.

Q. As a recent graduate of Abu Ghraib, I am concerned. Truth be told, the interrogation techniques I was subjected to there were extremely effective. Getting everything off my chest like that felt enormously therapeutic. It was, like, a spiritual colonic or something. Anyway, after a dizzying four months spent crouched in a 3 x 4 cage my captors laughingly called Forgive Me Father for I Have Sinned, I shuffled out the front gates of Abu Ghraib a free man. With a totally clean conscience and soul. But upon returning home late one night last month (after fruitlessly foraging for food in the dumpsters outside the Green Zone), I found that my wife was gone. My neighbors say they saw an American soldier leaving our house, my wife under his arm, kicking and screaming. And now, with the recent management overhaul at Abu Ghraib, I worry my wife won’t experience the same spiritual benefits that I did there. And yet, because of a mountain of red tape, not to mention erratic or downright nonexistent visiting hours, all my attempts to check up on my wife’s “progress” at Abu Ghraib have been forcefully denied. Any words of consolation, or encouragement, to reaffirm my belief in the American Detainment System? —SHAKEN, BUT STILL STIRRED

A. Dear Stirred, Your concern for your wife’s emotional and spiritual well-being is certainly valid, but not to worry. Your wife is in “good hands” with our benevolent state, and if/when she returns home I think you’ll find her imbued with the same aura of cleanliness that you so clearly cherish in yourself. Despite the recent media debacle, as well as the faux cries of indignation exploding throughout Congress, the Occupation Forces remain as dedicated as ever to the robust acquisition of actionable intelligence. In fact, the Pentagon has recently declared that, in accordance with the previously maligned Geneva Conventions, the primary interrogation technique currently being used on Iraqi detainees is non-lethal cannibalism (NLC). Still ambivalent? How’s this for a track record: Dick Cheney is reputed to have perfected this same interrogation technique some years back on his own teenage daughter, when he first suspected her of being gay.

Q. The Coalition has recently begun dropping leaflets that contain excerpts from our new constitution. At the bottom of each leaflet, in small print, is the disclaimer that this is an Uncorrected Galley Proof. So far, what I’ve read on these leaflets hasn’t exactly been mind-blowing (and I’m not referring to the erroneous verb conjugations, the inaccurate shifts in tense, the piacular degradation of our mother tongue, etc.). But then again, these leaflets are merely fragments. It’s always different when you sit down and read the whole banana from beginning to end. My question: Will our constitution possess the same redoubtable, buoyant quality that has made your American constitution such an enduring document for the ages? —SONGS OF FREEDOM, SONGS OF DESPAIR

A. Dear Songs, Your constitution will have the canonical heft of a L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry chapbook. Because the Iraqi constitution, like all constitutions, is nothing more than vanity publishing to the nth degree. But there is one particular passage from your new constitution that warrants serious study: the Eighth Amendment. The Eighth Amendment begins by proclaiming, “We hereby declare it is against the law for Iraqi citizens to copulate in any fashion other than the 43 positions/procedures outlined below, all of which are named after presidents of the United States.” The Eighth Amendment amounts to a kind of Kama Sutra for the new millennium. Lest you find this disconcerting, please know that here in America we’ve long been fucking in these “presidential positions,” and have found them to be, on the whole, rousingly obliquitous. On a personal note, my favorite position is the oft neglected Dwight D. Eisenhower (pronounced I-zen-hammer). Just last week my neighbors, Luke and Judy, appeared on my doorstep, asking if I’d like to come over and “kick it” at their house for a while. To which I replied, “True dat.” So the three of us repaired to Luke and Judy’s moonlit backyard, where the machinery was already set up. I slipped into the rubber Cock Sling Suit, and then crawled hesitantly up onto the flanged, metal buttress. Luke’s wife, Judy, with a ceremonial flourish, stuck the barbecue lighter to the fuse. I crouched into the bore, and felt a deep heat on my backside, then heard a hissing noise. Judy yelled, “Man in the hole.” I cannot bear to relay to you in detail what happened next. I can only quote verbatim for you from my Joy of Patriotism manual what ensued that fateful night:

The Dwight D. Eisenhower Position

This is vital if the man is to maintain control of his penis: Whether inserting or receiving, he should always facilitate a sure footing. The man (X), once precision-launched at a 160° angle from the Orgasm Gun (see Ballistics Report, pg. 792), should lead with the penis and follow with the body, the feet landing in concert with initial penetration. The other man, receivee (Y), once precision-launched from the opposite direction, should tuck his body into a ball and lead with the buttocks, in order to maneuver a successful full-moon display. Or, as may be the case, depending on the desire, cunning, and airborne flight skill of Y, the finger-in-anus slip slide counter-insert.

Please bear in mind, regarding the above passage, that my role was that of X. Please also try not to focus on the fact that after Luke ejaculated inside of me, I had to be rushed to the hospital, where, despite the frenzied efforts of a team of urologists, I lost a testicle. I, apparently, had not crouched properly during my admittedly chaotic flight, and my left testicle burst upon impact with Luke’s buttocks when we inadvertently collided in mid-air.

Q. There’s been much talk here by Paul Bremer about this newly instated holiday called Muslim Thanksgiving. The first one will be on June 30. Anything you can tell me about what to expect regarding this forthcoming holiday? —SLEEPLESS IN NAJAF

A. Dear Sleepless, This is an excellent question, but a difficult one to answer. Here in the Homeland, initial press reports suggest your first Muslim Thanksgiving will involve the ritual supper of either a pig wearing a feathered headdress or a free-range bald eagle cooked with an apple in its beak. Alas, I wish I had more info on this subject to share with you. But in reality, the scope of my knowledge about the Muslim religion is, like that of many Americans, pretty much zilch. I do, however, know that prayer is an essential part of your religion. And when I use the word prayer, I’m not using it in the terroristorial sense—i.e., according to the White House’s Multicultural/Racial Profiling expert, Tom Ridge, the current crop of terrorists brewing in the Middle East believe the male ejaculate is the actual prayer. And furthermore, Islamic law apparently states that in order to register a Successful Prayer in Terrorist Heaven, a man must precision-guide his spooge into his wife’s cunt with such cataclysmic force that said spooge comes spiraling out the wife’s mouth posthaste and lands in a collection plate perched on the bedside table. Which helps explain that now famous home video (you know, the one released to the major networks by the American government during the buildup to the war) of the Head Terrorist and his cohorts. In which we see those bellicose, turbaned terrorists crowing in subtitles. As they chug their own seed from teacups and chortle gleefully about their so-called “recyclable prayer.”

Gabe Hudson served as a rifleman in the marine reserves during the early ’90s. His first book of fiction, Dear Mr. President, about the Persian Gulf War, won the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was a PEN/ Hemingway finalist.