120 Days of Abu Ghraib

The girls were forced to strip and line up, while the German Shepherds
Snarled and barked menacingly; having been trained by beasts they spoke
The beast’s language – having never known kindness, they knew no other.
The brave commander arrived, a man of great learning, who lectured all

Present that they had come to Iraq not as conquerors but as liberators, and
That under Saddam Iraqi women had been enslaved, yet now they were free.
At a nod from her commander, an unwoman started shouting at the girls
While beating them with a truncheon. They begged and pleaded for mercy –

None was forthcoming; ’twas the eye of Lucifer, godless zone where the Death’s
Head reigns. “Teaching savages in the ways of democracy requires patience,
Yet we are only too happy to take up this sacred burden,” said the commander.
Grabbing the youngest by the hair, he pulled her from the line and threw her

To the ground. Taking off his camouflage jacket and handing it to his adjutant,
He wore a shirt underneath that said “Sexism sucks;” he also wore two buttons:
The first said “Save the koala bear,” while the other said “I love hypnotherapy.”
Taking the truncheon from the unwoman, he began to beat the sobbing girl

Until she collapsed, a whimpering heap of broken innocence. Pausing to take
Off his second shirt, he wore yet another shirt underneath. This shirt was black
And had a small skull and crossbones on it, emblazoned in white. The fallen saw
The sign and gave the salute in homage, while their master proceeded to rape

The girl, while her parents – brought in to watch – wept bitterly. The screams of the
Girl cried out into the night, they cried out unto the moon that rose over Baghdad,
They cried out to the New York liberal who was doing the New York Times crossword
Puzzle, they cried out to the Boston liberal who was reading a book on mindfulness,

They ravaged the silence of the sacred night, they shattered the world of dream.
And those who had forsworn their souls, could never understand that the tortured
Would only find peace when a Baghdadi woman who lived all alone jumped off her
Balcony eleven years later – mourned only by the moons and the haunting of the
Desert’s howling cries.

David Penner has taught English and ESL within the City University of New York and at Fordham. His articles on politics and health care have appeared in CounterPunch, Dissident Voice, Dr. Linda and KevinMD; while his poetry has been published with Dissident Voice. Also a photographer, he is the author of three books: Faces of Manhattan Island, Faces of The New Economy, and Manhattan Pairs. He can be reached at: 321davidadam@gmail. Read other articles by David.