Half an hour before the war (Tim Blickhan)

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  • (Posted 2009-12-02)   CPDL #20526:   
Editor: Tim Blickhan (submitted 2009-11-25).   Score information: Octavo, 10 pages, 92 kB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes: Copyright © 2005 Charles Timothy Blickhan

General Information

Title: Half an hour before the war
Composer: Tim Blickhan
Lyricist: Joseph Gastigercreate page

Number of voices: 8vv   Voicing: SSAATTBB
Genre: Secular

Language: English
Instruments: A cappella

First published: 2005

Description: Number 1 of "Songs for the Abandoned" (see Composer's Page for the other movements).

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

HALF AN HOUR BEFORE THE WAR (excerpts)

Half an hour before the war . . .

In Samarra, the imam stirred
weak jasmine tea,
nodding to the adamant whorls of the sura—
When the sky splits asunder
and reddens like a rose
or stained leather,
which of your Lord's blessings would you deny?

While at Baghdad the new bride
panted in the blue hotel,
kneading this strange pair of shoulders
gone slack at last—
smeary with henna, lustrous
seventeen years old.

The airman from New Orleans
who would target that roof
wasn't thinking of newsmen
regretting collateral damage—
he was dreaming some Sunday,
beignets at the Café du Monde
when his daughter had time . . .

Cascades of the Tigris collided
below the gun turrets,
behind the high-rises
beside the mosques.

Then came jets perforating radar—
missiles stenciled with the names of girls—
the gasworks going up—
the door of fire—

Then came the war . . .

JOSEPH GASTIGER