Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud following the signing by President Donald Trump and King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia of the Joint Strategic Vision Statement for the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, during ceremonies, Saturday, May 20, 2017, at the Royal Court Palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Official White House Photo Shealah Craighead)

Tom Freidman’s Kingdom Come

in World by

I flew to interview the crown
known as MBS
we met at night
his ornate palace spoke
his brother and senior ministers
shared different lamb
and spiced the conversation
I surrendered at 1:15 a.m.
MBS wore me out with a fire hose
from top to the bottom
power for power’s sake
I know not a single Saudi
I spoke a different language
sugar-coating war
a humanitarian nightmare
tilting 100 percent
the right person at the right time
is the new Hitler
I make no predictions
but I am rooting for him
and post-9/11 America
a country locked religious high tech
the suffocating hand is working
I fear the day I die I am going to die


Poet’s Note: On November 23rd the New York Times published Thomas Freidman’s ecstatic tribute to the latest dictator of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). Those concerned about the horrific US-backed Saudi total-war against Yemen and about the appalling state of human rights in Saudi Arabia were not pleased. My poem is an erasure of Friedman’s cringe-worthy paean.


Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s Prince of Chaos [Huffington Post]
Friedman’s Love Letter to a War Criminal [The American Conservative]
Tom Friedman’s paean to a Saudi Tyrant Ignites NYT Comments Storm [The Arab American News]

Matthew Murrey is a poet whose writings have appeared in various journals such as Tar River Poetry, Poetry East, and Rattle. He received an NEA Fellowship in Poetry a number of years ago, and his first book manuscript is seeking a publisher. He is a high school librarian in Urbana, Illinois where he lives with his partner. They have two sons who live in the Pacific Northwest.

Image of Mohammed bin Salman is an Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead.

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