Rumsfeld Ghazal

Asnia Asim

(“There are known knowns — there are things we know we know,” Rumsfeld said in February 2002, when asked for evidence that Saddam Hussein tried to supply weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups. — The Washington Post)


he said, there are known knowns and there are things we know we know
a groom in Iraq was shot on his wedding so he was a no-show we know 

he added, there are known unknowns that is also something of note
the skin of unburied bodies over-proofs like spoiled dough we know 

he clarified, that is to say there are some things we do not know in fact
the ceasefire spread in our ears like the unsounding of pink snow we know 

he resumed, but there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we know we
don’t know so we don’t know,
like how deep and low a lie can go we know 

Daase and Kessler* say he left out “what we do not like to know” by design
my dying parents absolved my visa-bound guilt hushing, we know we know 

he named his autobiography Known and Unknown: A Memoir, a bestseller
in Urdu anjaan means unknown but its root jaan is all life aglow we know


* Knowns and Unknowns in the “’War on Terror”’: Uncertainty and the Political Construction of Danger, Christopher Daase and Oliver Kessler, Security Dialogue, December 2007; vol. 38, 4: pp. 411–434.