Bagram, Afghanistan, 2002

Marvin Bell

 
The interrogation celebrated spikes and cuffs,
the inky blue that invades a blackened eye,
the eyeball that bulges like a radish,
that incarnadine only blood can create.
They asked the young taxi driver questions
he could not answer, and they beat his legs
until he could no longer kneel on their command.
They chained him by the wrists to the ceiling.
They may have admired the human form then,
stretched out, for the soldiers were also athletes
trained to shout in unison and be buddies.
By the time his legs had stiffened, a blood clot
was already tracing a vein into his heart.
They said he was dead when they cut him down,
but he was dead the day they arrested him.
Are they feeding the prisoners gravel now?
To make them skillful orators as they confess?
Here stands Demosthenes in the military court,
unable to form the words “my country.” What
shall we do, we who are at war but are asked
to pretend we are not? Do we need another
naive apologist to crown us with clichés
that would turn the grass brown above a grave?
They called the carcass Mr. Dilawar. They
believed he was innocent. Their orders were
to step on the necks of the prisoners, to
break their will, to make them say something
in a sleep-deprived delirium of fractures,
rising to the occasion, or, like Mr. Dilawar,
leaving his few possessions and his body.
 
From Mars Being Red by Marvin Bell. Copyright © 2007 by Marvin Bell. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Poems by This Author

Around Us by Marvin Bell
We need some pines to assuage the darkness
Mars Being Red by Marvin Bell
Being red is the color of a white sun where it lingers
The Book of the Dead Man (Food) by Marvin Bell
The dead man likes chocolate, dark chocolate
The Book of the Dead Man (Fungi) by Marvin Bell
The dead man has changed his mind about moss and mold
The Book of the Dead Man (Nothing) by Marvin Bell
The dead man knows nothing
The Book of the Dead Man (The Foundry) by Marvin Bell
The dead man hath founded the dead man's foundry
The Book of the Dead Man (Your Hands) by Marvin Bell
Mornings, he keeps out the world awhile, the dead man
Time Study by Marvin Bell
The coffee was cold so I said so. I said,
To an Adolescent Weeping Willow by Marvin Bell
I don't know what you think you're doing
To Dorothy by Marvin Bell
You are not beautiful, exactly
White Clover by Marvin Bell
Once when the moon was out about three-quarters


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