Denial of Service

by F.J. Bergmann

“This letter summarizes our view; a memorandum will follow that will more fully explain our reasoning.” Memorandum from Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee to The White House Counsel on interrogation methods that do not violate prohibitions.

Wish for a surprise and you will not be disappointed. Watch it flow, gurgling out of the amorphous possibles. Raise the stakes, paint it cyclamen pink, and turn it loose. Mark the boundaries and when it grows up you will have complete confidence that in an office somewhere you and a “doctor” can measure it while it lies shackled to the observation table, saying “No!” On a wall in the recreation area you have a wide chart where you follow the changing plot of steel pins. It’s always about destruction, isn’t it? Lay out the equipment you’ve prepared, the latest fashion in interrogative devices. Tell him they’re very him. The only reason you use these things is to enable, shall we say, possibilities. Keep things on track. Dead center. Up a certain river with no shoes. This can get difficult if you want to make it that way. If you sent anything out of the country, well, you can just forget about it. This is the Midwest and you can’t take the country out of anything around hereabouts, ’specially the language. It takes one to know one, but we try to avoid him as much as possible, especially when the moon is new and fierce. Line those struggles up into a calumny. If they’d held the ground to the west there wouldn’t be hell to pay. Price no object lesson. March to D.C. and keep on going. Together we can make father see reason. Or stars, which are especially fine tonight or so we heard. Just a stone’s throw and we’re, like, so completely there.

F. J. Bergmann edits poetry for Mobius: The Journal of Social Change ( and imagines tragedies on or near exoplanets. Work appears in Abyss & Apex, Analog, Asimov’s SF, and elsewhere in the alphabet. A Catalogue of the Further Suns won the 2017 Gold Line Press poetry chapbook contest.

Copyright 2018, F. J. Bergmann

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