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Monday, 24 October 2011

the contemplations of a torturer

Why does this bloodied sweetheart smile at me?
Smile with that special smile my father had?
I will not - cannot - look at him from this time on...
The patient will not speak, the surgeon cannot look!

Somehow I have to open up this gentleman...
Open up? A slip most Freudian! I'm back
at my first op', the need to steel myself. I'll do
the same again, I have a duty to perform.

I have to make him talk, tell all he knows.
He and his kind contaminate the earth.
I have my orders from the very top. From those
who know what pestilence these people spread.

I made a promise once to do no harm. What did that mean?
Is that a No to torturing the Anti-Christ?
I know of pain, have studied it and learned its ways.
I harness it to save the world. I spit on him

and ready all my tools for the long night. He'll die,
I do not doubt - or care - but not before he talks.
I am familiar with these tools: the scalpel and
the probes, but some are new. The hammer and the irons.

Why in the mirror do I see myself
in wedding dress or nurse's uniform?
Why does my past life haunt me so? (I know, of course,
but she is dead until this job is done.)

And does it need to justify itself to you,
my new, enlightened self to that which clings to me?
Why will you not lie down and take your cue from him?
Why do you put my mother's face where his should be?

But yet it will not work, this blackmail that you try...
I've learned the techniques of persuasion, tried
them on our guest, but now we have not time. What we
must know, we must know now - and shall, I promise you!

I'll try the tape again, another night
of hearing his wife scream - this time with pain,
his pain to make her pain more real to him -
and that should do the trick. He'll crack.

All this he's brought upon himself - and me.
I'll kill him for the trouble he has caused. So like
his kind. How dare he put me through all this!
Where's his compassion for his fellow man?

I am submitting this poem to Poets United for their Poetry Pantry #72.


Mary said...

Oh, Dave, that definitely gives me the chills. Truly creepy....brrrr.

Eileen T O'Neill ..... said...


A scary visit into that bizarre mind, where the abnormal is the familiar norm. Outside of the realm of most acceptable standards of behaviour. Into the unknown and feebly trying to probe the mindset of this rather clever and bloodied collector of information.


Laurie Kolp said...

Dave- This brought chills to my bones... wonderfully written; vivid.

Friko said...

How do you know?

The workings of a torturer's mind are unimaginable to me.

Linda Sue said...

WOW you go places No body else is ever willing to go and you write it so perfectly. I know what it feels like to be that guy...thank you. This is a very important poem- This ought to be read by everyone who is able to read! There is a person behind that horror. He has a job to do. He is skilled.

ArtistUnplugged said...

Deep! Chilling, coincidental good post leading up to Halloween too. Good prose.

sunny said...

Hi Mr Dave,great poetry,little bit scary too.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Great monologue with great conclusive irony.

Hannah Stephenson said...

Creepy stuff, huh?

Here's a good song to pair with this poem: http://youtu.be/otx49Ko3fxw

Windsmoke. said...

Creepy, haunting, teeth chattering and well written :-).

Other Mary said...

Chilling Dave, and all the more so because I think something very like it happens so often. The end and the means... do no harm.

Isabel Doyle said...

This is a complex piece which I don't think I fully understand yet you have captured the insanity of us all

Dave King said...

A word of explanation
I originally wrote this as a response to the dVerse challenge, which was to write from the perspective of someone totally other. Try to get into the skin of someone as unlike yourself as could be imagined. There was a link to a poem by Rilke by way of example, which I took. The poem was that of a torturers victim. I didn't read the poem but clicked to leave immediately as I wss already thinking in terms of the torturer and didn't want to be influenced.

I suppose I take that as a plus then... thanks. A useful feedback.

Ye, but an ordinary person, I thought, even a good person, seduced by whatever it is that does seduce such a person.

Thank you, good to know.

I didn't. Don't, but that was the point, as explained in my note at the top. Maybe I should have written it yesterday?

Linda Sue
Thank you so much. Yes, that is what I wanted to get across. He (she) was not a monster until caught up in whatever it was; is a monster for the purpose of getting the job done; will cease to be a monster when it's over.

True... I guess it might have doubled as a Halloween post - but I've started that already.

Thanks. Agreed, it's scary.

Thank you. Good of you to say so.

Thanks for the response and for the link. Shall be off to there shortly.

Teeth chattering in more than one way, maybe. Thank you.

Other Mary
Yes, you are right. It is all about the end and the means.

Thank you for this. It means much to me. I think maybe there never is the possibility of full understanding. There are merely hints and gestures towards one.