In the same week that the infamously anonymous executioner known as Jihadi John was reported killed in an American drone strike, news was also released of a seemingly successful operation in which the full face of a New York bike mechanic and messenger, who had died two days earlier in a biking accident, was transplanted ontothe head of a former fireman from Tennessee, whose face was burnt off while fighting a fire 14 years ago.
So farewell, then, Jihadi John, faceless face of Isis.
The implacable role you dressed for, merits elegy or epic
But men half grown are not worthy of that part, and comic
Is the mode that captures best your adolescent crisis
Vented on tragic, headless victims, their lives fully formed nonetheless.
And so this is a sonnet, renowned for doing dialectic
The running gag – you make me sick – between death in the desert aesthetic
And ‘Little Mo’ covering nose and mouth when schoolgirls scorned his halitosis.
Dead man’s face pulled tight, tacked on to another’s head
Capillaries tied together, prick his lip and – phew! – he bleeds anew.
There are ‘things in life worse than dying’, the former fireman said
Whose first face melted along with the mobile home he tried to save.
No more stops, stares and ‘monster’ – only the question ‘I am who?’
Now his death mask is behind him and new life starts instead.