Red Tape and Kangaroo Courts I; Red Tape and Kangaroo Courts II; Old News

Red Tape and Kangaroo Courts I[1]

On this tropical refrigerated paved-over island
where banana rats are rampant

endangered species iguanas dine on
McDonald’s and Subway discards

and the list of things that are prohibited
in the camps is itself prohibited

—not Kafka but George Clarke, a tax lawyer
working pro bono at Guantánamo

where special clearance and special papers
required to reach this “theater” are months in coming

where Arabic-speaking inmates are pressed to serve
with no skilled translators available

and capital cases are heard with no
capital defense attorneys allowed

Red Tape and Kangaroo Courts II

Soundproof glass between
the accused and observers in the courtroom

shields what cannot be said
what must be interrupted if the detainees

speak of the dark acts at the dark
heart of what took place during their confinement:

for interrogation they held his head in
the toilet and flushed it over and over

for hunger strike they forcefed him until he vomited, then
fed him again until he vomited again

and when he passed out, they doused him awake in a cell
with a steel bunk, no mattress, no blanket 

if we don’t talk about the torture
it never happened.

Old News

The New York Times: 5.4.10, 7.11.08


Medic Recalls Detainee Chained to Cage
like laundry, draped in neat pentameter.

He tended bullet wounds in the teenager’s
Back twice daily in a five-foot square

Crate at a US lockup at Bagram.
The Pentagon defended what was done

To the chained and hooded prisoner
As sactioned punishment of young Khadr.

The medic didn’t object; chaining was approved.
He borrowed him to translate for other captives.

He didn’t inquire how long they let him hang.
Shackled, the boy soiled himself. Beatings.

Threats of rape. Solitary. Prolonged cold.
It only makes page 6. The news is old.

[1] The titles and key phrases embedded in these two sonnets are excerpted from The Guantánamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison Outside the Law, ed. by Mark P. Denbeaux and Jonathan Hafetz (New York, 2009).