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.