Florida's Poet Laureate inspired by the murder of Jamal Khashoggi


  • Image by Jeanne Meinke
The mutilation and murder of Jamal Khashoggi last October at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul has been fading out of public memory. But this brutal unpunished act should be unforgettable and unforgivable. Khashoggi, a Saudi-Arabian journalist living in Virginia whom Time magazine called a “Guardian of Truth,” wrote for the Washington Post. His horrific end has historical echoes.

One similar event is the murder on December 29th (ugh, my birthdate!), 1170, of Thomas A’Becket (now Saint Thomas) at his church. In that case, the English king Henry II “famously” said something like “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” and four knights — his hit squad — marched out and hacked him to death in Canterbury Cathedral.

In Khashoggi’s case, reams of evidence show that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (called “MbS”) ordered five hit men from his personal bodyguards to rid him of Khashoggi, who’d been criticizing his mob-like rule of Saudi Arabia. The FBI and the U.N. reported that MbS is responsible for this and many other atrocities, but President Trump refuses to accept their verdict. He admires MsB, along with Putin, Kim Jong-un, and other tyrants. They all hate the press.

The idea that MbS can live smugly with unlimited money, secretly paying $450 million for one of Leonardo da Vinci’s oldest masterpieces, “Salvator Mundi,” a portrait of Christ meant for the whole world, is galling. He apparently enjoys looking at it in private on his $500 million yacht, Serene, where he can enjoy it all by himself. Here are some murky thoughts.

Da Vinci Rondeau

For Jesus’ sake da Vinci painted

Salvator Mundi a sainted

subject soiled with murky hints

that’s it’s been purchased by a prince

whose oily hands are stained and tainted

Da Vinci’s work had been invaded

by artsy scholars well acquainted

with its value which they retinted

for Mammon’s sake

So love and art authenticated

in this small work of genius granted

by unknown gods has now been rinsed

while we can only wait and wince:

Jesus’ head may be replanted

for Allah’s sake

Stay on top of Orlando news and views. Sign up for our weekly Headlines newsletter.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at feedback@orlandoweekly.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.