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.
For weeks, I breathe his body in the sheet and pillow. I lift a blanket to my face. There’s bitter incense paired with something sweet, like sandalwood left sitting in the heat or cardamom rubbed on a piece of lace. For weeks, I breathe his body. In the sheet I smell anise, the musk that we secrete with longing, leather and moss. I find a trace of bitter incense paired with something sweet. Am I imagining the wet scent of peat and cedar, oud, impossible to erase? For weeks, I breathe his body in the sheet— crushed pepper—although perhaps discreet, difficult for someone else to place. There’s bitter incense paired with something sweet. With each deployment I become an aesthete of smoke and oak. Patchouli fills the space for weeks. I breathe his body in the sheet until he starts to fade, made incomplete, a bottle almost empty in its case. There’s bitter incense paired with something sweet. And then he’s gone. Not even the conceit of him remains, not the resinous base. For weeks, I breathed his body in the sheet. He was bitter incense paired with something sweet.
typical of an arid country among hundreds of other flora you find half a province of avalanches parts are desert I might say light defeated by a dark thing that strips mountain and bullet no the mountains have forgotten airborne you would never say howl never say mountain or region or enemy you say men’s mouths are the woods’ black holes I’m thinking The guy on TV didn’t seem upset about killing his wife If he’d done so but he didn’t he says nothing about him if not after an interview tuft bodies of red wings scatter the lawns did you hear birds out of sky some dead wind he didn’t seem upset and so may as well have killed his wife a jury says If you could hear me now I’m not sure how important it might seem In another language Hope is not too much or that a random crime might mean We share something
The donkey. The donkey pulling the cart. The caravan of dust. The cart made of plywood, of crossbeam and junkyard tires. The donkey made of donkey. The long face. The long ears. The curled lashes. The obsidian eyes blinking in the dust. The cart rolling, cracking the knuckles of pebbles. The dust. The blanket over the cart. The hidden mortar shells. The veins of wires. The remote device. The red light. The donkey trotting. The blue sky. The rolling cart. The dust smudging the blue sky. The silent bell of the sun. The Humvee. The soldiers. The dust-colored uniforms. The boy from Montgomery, the boy from Little Falls. The donkey cart approaching. The dust. The laughter on their lips. The dust on their lips. The moment before the moment. The shockwave. The dust. The dust. The dust.
From Hoodwinked, published by Sarabande Books. Copyright © 2011 by David Hernandez. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.