second person imperative-interrogative woven with the third

you did not fly into or burn us–
those men are ashes now,
so they can justify only
an enhanced interrogation,
so much softer than torture–
the pain comes from your own muscles
set & biologic as wrong thinking
encoded in DNA, locked;
resisting your stress positioning
cuffed, shackled until your muscles fail
but their hands stay clean

as they rack you
with your own flesh,  shivering
to generate heat, naked
until words pour faster
than cold water splashed over bluing skin

this is new language
for an old pain
wrapped & warped
into doublespeak

saving the most famous
for last–
waterboarded truth
is not as interesting
as lies falling from mouths
that will say anything
just to breathe another minute

words are imperative
to stop this, so speak:
say anything

later, they will say
this is not torture–
see, his nail beds are intact,
& soles of feet unblistered

there are no scars
or missing fingers

& the marks on your skin
are from open slaps–
so say anything
you, held safely
offshore
& invisible to my laws

but not absent
from the terms–

enhanced interrogation
is torture
not even prettied by proxy

so speak–
it is difficult to trace
fingerprints
to name the perpetrators
of asphyxiation

tell yours
while you still breathe

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About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
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48 Responses to second person imperative-interrogative woven with the third

  1. brian miller says:

    waterboarding is brutal….
    really nice weave of the torture throughout this…lots of refernces….oy…the troture but leaving no trace so that they can not be held accountable….the foreboding gives nice mphasis to the close…

  2. claudia says:

    oh heck…this is such a terrible way to make people talk…but then every torture is terrible..physical or emotional… great write susan

  3. Dark, yes. There are so many forms of torture and responses vary from person to person. You’ve captured the issues well in this interrogative interpretation, Susan. Important poem.

  4. annotating60 says:

    Susan Daniels, where did that come from?! >KB

  5. Mary says:

    Wow, you really took the prompt and ran with it. Really chilling to think about, and writing the ‘you’ makes the reader think about it in a personal way. Torture is torture by whatever name. Nice job.

  6. janehewey says:

    intense. i have the incredible feeling that the world is lighter having seen this poem. light and dark are not so separate, you know. wonderful.

  7. Laurie Kolp says:

    Amazing, Susan!

  8. Tony says:

    This made me feel sick in my stomach and sick in my heart. I guess that’s about the only civilised response to this outrage. Powerfully written, Susan.

  9. Until I saw this happen in graphic detail on the TV, I thought, so what can a few drops of water continually being poured onto your face hurt. I didn’t realise it wasn’t just a few drops of water but a continuous gushing that went up the nose, down the throat and practically drowned you. All torture is barbaric and waterboarding is dreadful to say the least and yes, the person being tortured is likely to say anything, true or false just to stop the pain.
    Deeply thought provoking write Susan.

    • Bren–thank you.
      Terrorism, what happened here on 9/11, in unforgivable, but our actions cannot ever be justified as a response to it, and are also beyond forgiveness. Made the point very clear to me that we will never be civilized.

  10. Miriam E. says:

    wow, Susan. what a painful, torturing, marvelous piece.

    “saving the most famous
    for last–
    waterboarded truth
    is not as interesting
    as lies falling from mouths
    that will say anything
    just to breathe another minute”

    you’ve outdone yourself… the words are so vivid and yet so dark – just wow.

  11. Torture is never acceptable… people will confess to anything under torture…as they say… Very chilling poem, it’s scary to think this goes on in many forms and situations all over the world.

    • Hi Dianne–thanks for commenting. There is no defense or justification for torture, ever. To wrap it up in terms like “enhanced interrogation” sends chills down my spine.

  12. Grace says:

    Chilling write on this kind of torture and pain ~ Great voice ~

  13. ruleofstupid says:

    What he said, she said, she said, not what he said, almost what she said and some of what he said.
    It’s not easy to be a late commenter you know 😉

  14. WOW! Your creative and likely science-based approach made me shiver. Not much scares or disturbs me. This did. Advancements are so often used in a manner such as this.

  15. Kelvin S.M. says:

    ..words are indeed very important…. it affects us in so many ways…. i couldn’t just pick one or two or three lines to say excellent so i picked all – excellent! …i liked your freedom here and commanding appeal to me…. smiles…

  16. vivinfrance says:

    Gut-wrenching imperatives. We must not forgive or forget the outrage.

  17. hypercryptical says:

    A superb, powerful – yet disturbing write. This truth of yours should be read by many.

    Anna :o]

  18. David King says:

    This is turning the interrogator’s spotlight on him and his dirt – and it’s so well done! Brilliant.

  19. MarinaSofia says:

    Oh, my! This was so chilling – everyone has already said it, but it remains true. A punch in the solar plexus, reading this poem.

  20. markwindham says:

    i think we would disagree about the politics and the subject matter and justification, but the writing is superb.

  21. nelle says:

    😦 We don’t move society ahead by embracing the abuses we wish to eradicate.

  22. brudberg says:

    I think the key here is that you can get anyone to say anything under torture. So it’s a very high price to pay on society’s conscience for something where the effect is very debatable.

    Very good writing as usual.

    Björn

  23. kaykuala says:

    Somewhat scary. Manipulations in science can be a challenge to counter! Nicely Susan!

    Hank

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