Miteb's warning

by Ken Baake

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I wrote this after reading Abdelrahman Munif's novel _Cities of Salt_. It is a sweeping tale of the arrival of American oil companies in the Persian Gulf in the 1930s. The story tells how a simple Wadi (oasis) culture was transformed by the oil fields and their support cities that sprang up in the desert. An early character in the book, Miteb al-Hathal, is the one voice of prophetic warning that the simple life of the Wadi would be forever disrupted. There is no Abraham in the story, a character I added to give the warning a Judeo-Christian resonance.

Of course, I know it wouldn't be possible to have the musical instruments I have, the recording capabilities, or the Internet to present my work without oil. In fact, I probably wouldn't even be alive.

Image: Dammam No. 7, the first commercial oil well in Saudi Arabia, which stuck oil on March 4, 1938.


Miteb’s Warning
June 5, 2013

Abraham saw Miteb al-Hathal
In moonlight at the edge of the well spring
A shadow not define he could not tell
What or even if he was saying
What or even if he could say.

Miteb scorned the devil and his curse
Those sons of whores that fouled the garden.
Driving iron poles into the earth.
God did cause their hearts to harden
Even mothers shunned their leather hearts.

Atoum sprang forth a god from wells deep
Primordial both before and after time.
Flooded plains sow fertile river seed.
Made lean and strong all of Miteb’s tribe.
Made even camels heave and surge with life.

Oud solo

Lightening cut the sky at the wellspring
When Abraham heard Miteb’s piercing scream.
These rains that gorge the brook now make it sing
Will be the last forever in your lifetimes.
Will be the last but in tormenting dreams.

These thieves who foul water with black blood
Of ancient creature jinn inside the earth
Feed machines of soulless steel and rubber
God’s scorn by drought so all will be cursed.
Anemic dry to wander charred from birth.


released March 24, 2014
Ken: Guitar, vocals, oud

Recorded at the Crossroads Recording Studio, Texas Tech University.
Brett Brock, producer/engineer.



all rights reserved


Ken Baake Lubbock, Texas

Ken was born in Baltimore in 1955. He grew up hearing everyone from Johnny Mercer and Ray Charles to the Beatles on the family hi-fi, with a usual Saturday encore of Wagner's operas. Ken has degrees in English and economics and a background in journalism. He is currently an associate professor of English at Texas Tech, teaching classes in rhetoric. ... more

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