By Brian Turner
What are we to do after the white noise,
after the wallings, the rough takedowns
and deprivations of sleep, nudity, rectal
rehydration and rectally infused feedings,
the President’s daily briefings, learned
helplessness, the outsourced psychology
conducted in secret detention facilities,
black sites and gray sites redacted
in one country after another?
And what are we to think of █████,
the redactions of our times, the missing
videotapes, nasogastric tubes and mock
executions, those shackled to the wall
and given buckets for human waste,
the hoods, the restraints, the syllabi
of CIA interrogation training courses,
the statements about how the program
could provide “█████████████”?
I went about my life. I stood in line
and ordered coffee when it was my turn
to consider the “acceptable lower ambient
temperatures,” the ███████████,
the reduced caloric intake, the continual series
of near drownings, being awake for 180 hours,
the conditions in COBALT, BLACK, and VIOLET
like something I don’t have to think about.
I once carried a weapon and kicked in doors,
put men in prison with the words I wrote down,
with a nation sewn into the flag on my shoulder.
I can hear the men howling from their chains
and wreckage, no matter how much is █████,
They are calling across the world, calling to America.
This poem originally appeared in The Guardian.