"Interrogator," "Forced Confession," and "Speech in an Age of Certainty"


When you break me,
and I say this because
I have always felt breakable,
consult your field manual
designed for such situations
by committees of paid ethicists,
jailers, and Psychologists
and dumbed to a sixth grade level  
by an otherwise decent
Ivy League MFA graduate.
Pain, hypoxia, ice, fire, or threat  
should do the job. Dunk me underwater  
and I will not be stoic.
I know my lungs' inward scream,
my brain's struggle with terror
when drowning
for a minute and twenty seconds.
Because suddenly this confession  
has come down to my want for air
I will confess anything you ask
including statements swearing  
I was not coerced.
There is no need to make this difficult.
Look, your superiors already applaud  
your work with satisfaction.
Now, where does one sign?



Forced Confession 

I work loose an upper edge.  
His smaller moons are lifeless
but breath still rushes like a waterfall.
Even the fixtures are gold-plated.
I suspect the tooth was thin,
but every interrogator has a plan:
strip easy print from the walls.  
The authorities will deny everything.
Who encouraged stubbornness,
remnant color, texture of glue?
I suspect a story of another hue,
scrubbed grey, dull as drywall.



Speech in an Age of Certainty

dark angels  
refuel their black wings
at 30,000 feet,  
keen to visit  
modern havoc upon  
a sleeping village.
When they open the bays
40,000 lbs of armaments  
fall from fuselage.
Those distant explosions  
confirm our nation's radiance.
We swell
with patriotic awe,
let fervor be our virtue
now that stealth
has cloaked
our savage intent
and dimmed our view.
How suddenly
darkness enveloped us.  
How quickly
it has enlarged--
silent, untouchable
until it dissolved
every bound  
of restraint.
---    ---   ---
I refuse this  
others raised
empire & war,
to the calculus  
of final solutions
or the slinging
of lynch ropes  
over sturdy branches.
Surely there were
to winter blankets
sprinked with pox,
refusals to salute
those braids of hate
attached like
on the uniforms
of state.
No to jackbooted  
officers battering down
our doors.
No to their heels
upon our necks.
No to the death rattle
in our lungs.



Jemshed Khan has poems in places like Rigorous, I-70 Review, Writers Resist, Coal City Review, TheHypertexts, and Fifth Estate. He was just nominated for The Pushcart Prize and has completed a chapbook.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Thursday, March 12, 2020 - 22:33