Winter 2009 - THE POTOMAC

Three Poems
   Alex Cigale

Habeas Corpus (Show Me the Body)

In America, we do not torture.
We slap your face drooping, eyes glazed over
deprived of sleep, dripping with splashed water
from a glass smashed when you beg for a drink,
left standing naked and exposed to the cold,
as in the beginning, as we all were of old.

Youíve got to listen and do as youíre told
hands manacled hanging from the ceiling,
on cement floor shivering without a blanket,
in pretrial detention denied human contact
enemy of the state, enemy combatant.
Certain well-established, proven effective

psychop methods like sexual shaming
and having you piss and shit on yourself
are perfectly suitable and appropriate
to root out those evil doers, the terrorists.
The prisonerís dilemma: we only want
to know; please tell us what we want to hear.

The Awesome Hubris of the Tuareg

First glimpsed he was seen prowling on tiptoes
along some shadowy shoreline perhaps
down a Mediterranean alleyway stealthily
in the dark of night awash with the moon
among desert stones flung up by the minarets.

He seemed an incipient capitalist
a nomad-pastoralist in the grips of
the solemn aspirations of his race
competing desperately to top the tribe
fervent to sow the soil with his seed.

We have recently tested for his DNA
on four continents tracing the network
of his descent out of North Africa along
both coasts of the landlocked ocean-sea:
it extended all the way to Canada.

Sadly he had lashed out in a fit of anger
and was stabbed for it brutally in the chest
sleepwalking his way across the landscape.
In the embittering race for survival
it is not unusual to destroy ourselves.

In conclusion we are left to wonder
whether his senseless and violent death
was not possibly caused by the obstinate
presence of our obstreperous cameras.
Radio, libido, mojo, juju beads:

the bloodthirsty cameraís memories
internalized so that they can be killed
with gifts and made available for sale
to the stock collectors in the tourist trade.
But why is it I dream of dying an Arab?

Black Elk, Geronimo, and Red Cloud Speak

Everything an Indian does is in a circle.
The power of the world works in circles
and everything tries to be round. The sky

is round and I have heard it told the earth
is round and so are the stars. The wind is
round as it whirls. Birds make nests in circles

for theirs is the same religion as ours.
Even the seasons form one great circle;
they always come again to where they were.

The life of a man is a circle from
childhood to childhood and so it is in
everything where the spirit moves.

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