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Simple cruelty is too kind.
To exact meaningful suffering there are
many gradients of pain and abasement
to be tested and outcomes realised.
Some such may be publicly exposed without subtlety,
as with napalm that is dropped, erupts, cascades,
and re-sculpts that flesh targeted below.
Some may be disposed, with quietly maintained disregard,
to bring a flame toward clamped-open eyes,
to the flashpoint at which
heat and light overcomes sight.
A 'subject', now committed to the torturers' apprentice,
is made available for him to learn how the body can be twisted,
distorted, strained, near-asphyxiated.
How flesh and bone can be suborned to break
the subject's will.
How the subject’s mind can be ground to paste
by the application of acute pain and sustained indignity.
Before the novice confession taker
the subject is to make false witness against self and others,
which testimony will be reviewed again and again,
for utter certainty's sake.
Until, upon a burst vein,
blood disperses within,
though without a break of skin,
without an outward mark to show.
But it is evident that the subject will not revive
and is, inadvertently, dead.
For the fresh-faced apprentice,
just initiated to the screaming,
there will be further opportunities
to administer strict regimes
and redeem himself.
But the most exacting test
may be when he lowers his eyes
to sleep or rest,
his body stilled,
but his mind still at work.
Oh, see the boys of summer,
shimmering in these, their golden days,
soaked beneath a cherished Sun,
setting no store beyond its heat.
Oh, see the girls of summer too,
glowing in the same sea front haze,
waving, not frowning,
busting to shine! Shine on, girls!
But this basking wild-life,
being creatures of honed self-adoration,
they do not explore
beyond their immediate itch.
These boys and girls of summer daze
may be curdlers in their ways.
They give the finger to the future
and, for now, it seems they always can
Oh, see their children, their flesh replicated.
Though they don’t yet exist, they will come soon,
spawn yet to feel and respond to the Sun,
thrashing their tails some coming day.
And see the youthful moments spill
thru jack-frosted fingers, exploring jills,
their long-term casual rites
and short-time drives
near predictable as the toll
of those end-of-seasonal bells
hung over their heads.
Oh, see the children of summer,
now facing their winter’s ruin,
captive in their corralled waste,
wishing to again be on the run,
but moving less assuredly
than in their youth.
Brown, baked skins,
dry and tanned, much weathered,
rendered arid, cracked by the Sun,
where was their protection
from the sky’s blazing torch
that scorched their skins
to desolate landscapes?
These ageing boys and girls of blight
now face miserable, sultry weathers,
their youthful pulse of summer
immobilised in ice.
Oh, see the boys of summer,
shivering in the reflections
of those, their golden days . . .
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