I. Interrogation: Pisa, 1945
Thus Ben and la Clara a Milano by the heels at Milano That maggots shd/ eat the dead bullock—canto lxxiv
The set: card table, two chairs, the OSS captain smoking, The prisoner (“somewhat agitated”) before him, handcuffs
Loosened but not removed. A window above, a single cloud chuffing South toward Roma. The captain, silent, shuffles & reshuffles
The photos spread before them. Upon la Clara’s chest Benito seems asleep, a scepter wedged into the rigor-mortised
Fist, face pristine, though Clara’s eyes have been jackbooted shut. “Dago humor bewilders me,” the captain admits.
The prisoner says nothing. Now to the gas-station gallows Where like sleeping bats they sway, Clara’s chest bayoneted open
Though her skirt (for modesty) sailor-knots her knees. Duce is bruise & broken teeth, face a bloodied potato, jodhpurs ballooning.
To build the city of Dioce whose terraces are the colour of stars. The captain: anything you have to say? The prisoner coughs & stares. [End Page 604]
II. Las Manos de Che Guevara (Redacted), 1970
woe to them that conquer with armies and whose only right is their power—canto lxxvi
My XXXXXXXX saw them—the year she’d been “stationed” In La Paz. Someone wheeled them in
To an embassy cocktail party. The formaldehyde Goldened the jars where they swam: color of urine,
Sepia-tone XXXXXXXX the left hand still raised To salute la raza, lifeline slithering toward a wrist
Snaggled from the bone-saw’s teeth. She gazed Entranced, setting her daiquiri down. The thumbs XXXXXXXX twitch,
The index quivers. Langley’d needed confirmation— & she could see the residue of ink, smudging each whorled
Fingertip. Atop the jar her Bureau Chief XXXXXXXX set down A crushproof of Pall Malls, two sheets to the wind
& fumbling with the Polaroid accordioned open in his hands. How ’bout how ’bout a li’l pic-ture for me, XXXXXXXX. [End Page 605]
III. X Ray of a Swallowed Toy Battleship Lodged in the Esophagus of a Toddler, ca. 1905: Mütter Museum
“Liquids and fluids!” said the palmist. “A painter? well ain’t that liquids and fluids?”—canto lxxx
Poor boy, you gasp & wheeze but must stand at attention, Posture straight & silent for the fluoroscope—
Tedious exposure time, X rays shrapneling the consult room. Dr. Jackson fidgets the controls, a thrum & warble.
Be still: though inside you a model of the USS Maine Splits & plummets to Havana Harbor, ever down.
(Remember the Maine! To hell with Spain!) A false flag op; we “ourselves” laid the mine,
The death toll 266. Walk soft, big stick. Swallow A colony. Another. Invent the gentle art of waterboard—
To breathe & to drown conjoined. The water flows To mouth, nostril, face, earhole, the stomach pummeled
As a kind of coda, the swallowed gallons upchucked. Poor tyke, Breathe in peril. Someday they’ll get us all to talk. [End Page 606]
IV. The Dyeing of Bin Laden’s Beard, 2009
The chess board too lucid the squares are too even . . . theatre of war . . . “theatre” is good. There are those who did not want it to come to an end—canto lxxviii
In paradise, its color shall not fade. In paradise, the virgins shall offer up
Their seventy-two hymens, white thighs supplicant & splayed. But today, no virgins: only burkaed wives atop
A pair of stools. They weave the bootblack In with tiny horsehair brushes, the dark streaking down their wrists.
Now to the half-moon moustache, now to the detail work— They’ve traded their bifocals for a magnifying glass,
Shared to permit the coverage of each follicle. & Allah, we know, is in the details,
Each hair blown upon to dry it more speedily. & then he rises, our Prince of Shadows.
Laptop powered up, he views a cherished video of himself— White robes streaming & the chattering Kalashnikov. [End Page 607]
V. Cento: Radio Roma
Waal go ask yourselves what prevented it.Ezra Pound trying to tell you: the danger is not that you WILL BE
Invaded, it is that you HAVE BEEN invaded.Pound speakin’ and the big Jew has rotted EVERY
Nation he has wormed into. (Born...