Monthly Archives: December 2014

Preliminary Notes on The Physics of Modern Torture

Preliminary Notes on The Physics of Modern Torture

1. Time bends in an unpredictable manner
when twisted around a human body
using easily obtainable tools such as wires,
water, ducting tape, cigarettes, dogs, words,
silence, . . .

2. Varying sounds emanate from most orifices
depending on instruments applied.
Some sounds resemble broken words
that are often unverifiable.
Other sounds are highly similar
to those heard in abattoirs.

3. Each human body has its unique threshold.
The expected words may be extracted at different points
or not at all. Thus, another subject must always be at hand
in order for these tests to continue.

July 2008
-o-

With the release of some official information on the extent of the use of torture by the CIA, I thought it might be a good time to share this old poem of mine.

Torture is actually nothing new in the American way of dealing with anyone they want to squeeze (mis)information from. As early as 1902, the American public has heard of torture done by its soldiers stationed on the other side of the world. This New Yorker article revisits such horrors from over a century ago.

My poem first appeared in Alien to Any Skin. The book contains many poems on human rights and international politics.

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The Rabbit in Your Ear

Today marks a year after the passing of Nelson Mandela, father of South Africa. I wrote something around that time last year, “The Breath of Sparrows.” This year, with the current government seeming to move even further from Mandela’s legacy, something as trivial as a bunny would have made a huge difference.

The following is a first draft.

Image from The Guardian.

The Rabbit in Your Ear

Made us laugh. It was harmless,
a moment of whimsy
at a time of grief. As quick

as it was inserted in your
stately image, it was removed
without ceremony.

I can only imagine your laughing
with us now, saying
“You should have kept it

in my ear. It makes me
more real.”

-o-


Birds will have dominion when I take swallow form

It has to be one of the longest title for a poem – or at least a poem I’ve written. It was first published in Our Own Voice in September 2012. Today I remembered making an audio recording of me reading it. Click HERE or the photo to listen to it. I know it’s pretty rough and Kermit the Frog doesn’t like imitators. I am posting this recording as I send it to my mother back home who is very ill. I wonder if she can still hear me.

Photo found on Wikimedia by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen – Own work by uploader, http://bjornfree.com/galleries.html. I have a photograph of the same type of bird, one that sat on the bricks by the kitchen window. One day I hope to find it for sharing.