The Mutilated Man

When I wrote his name in the newspaper

Men came after midnight dressed in the dark

And woke me with voices like a winter wind

They burned my home to the ground while the neighbors gathered around

And threw me in a van like a darkened grave and drove away into hell

Seven and a half years

I was locked up for seven and a half years

Solitary confinement, nobody knew where I was

No one but the men who mocked and beat me

The first day they shot out a kneecap

Let me show you now my backward bending leg

They let it bleed out in the dust for three days before wrapping it up

Then it really started, every day

I could have set my watch by it

If they hadn’t stolen it

But at least it was a new way to measure the time

I’m deaf in this ear now, so please speak into the other

They would take my wife

With her PhD in mathematics

And tie her to a chair

Next to walls hung with monstrous tools

And ask her if she could remember

Names of other dissatisfied citizens

Seven and a half years

Until I thought the world outside

Was a lunacy I’d dreamed up to escape the truth

And when they let me out

Without any trial or explanation

We fled across the border

And through a series of desperate gambits

Wound up at the doorstep of a different land

Where prisoners are accused of crimes

And newspapers are filled with names