In the Hard Site
And we are fragments being pulled by the two sides of the split: belonging and unbelonging.
Samir Naqqash, Ana wa-haªulaª wa-al-fišam
A few days before Ramadan, Grainer and Davis, and another person that came with them used beat up a man named ‘Amjed’ who was in room number one. They were beating his very hard with a stick and Grainer was pissing on him and beating him for about a week until they injured his eye and the doctor came. Grainer and Davis, and a third man, used to beat up a prisoner who was from Syria and strip him all night. We heard him screaming all night. Every time a new prisoner came Grainer and Davis stripped them, beat them and took pictures. I remember one prisoner named ‘Wessam.’
And if a man dreamed alone he dreamt it was water pitch black
He could not eat he could not dream but when he woke he saw the sun in the open
He saw the sun in the open and recited the verses inside the black
site where then the policeman was opening his legs in the open
And the waves came between them, and he was among the drowned.
And it was said, “Earth, swallow thy waters; and heave abate!”
And the waters subsided, the affair was accomplished, and the Ark
settled on El-Judi and the light fell on his people sunlight on his people in the open.
But a man is held all night and a third man is held all night
and the first is screaming when they beat his legs in the open
while another put his feet on the other man’s neck
put his feet on his head and no one was looking as sunlight broke in the open.
And the screaming continued all night in the dark site where the blackness
fell in bands the screaming of the first and the third man held in the open
and one’s face was cut and another’s was cut and their blood shone black
in the hooded room where they took one then another and stripped them in the open
and cut them with their metal and their stick fell on the black scarred flesh
one then the other of them lying on the floor black from the blood coursing in the open
And was one screaming against another there was no way to tell
one was screaming all night in the hard site where the light was a room in the open
and in the verses there was the telling of what was to come
what was near and far the verses were telling what was to come in the open
This is of the tidings of the cities
We relate to you the tidings of these cities
Some of them are standing some of them are rubble
We relate what has happened to them in the open
And we wronged them not but they wronged themselves.
We wronged them not but were taken one by one in the open
And all that we relate is what must be told
by the messenger who comes into the hard site in the open
and waits for us to move without assistance across the yard into open light.
And watch and wait and listen to those who say to us
‘We are also watching and waiting.’
7 July 2014-13 January 2015
Note: As part of its investigation of reported abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib prison in 2003, the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command took sworn statements from many individuals formerly imprisoned at Abu Ghraib prison. The Washington Post obtained the testimonies and published them in 2004. These testimonies were reprinted in Mark Danner’s book, Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror (New York Review of Books, 2004) and serve as the source texts for this work.
Andrew Mossin is the author of two full-length poetry books, The Epochal Body (Singing Horse Press) and The Veil (Singing Horse Press), and a collection of critical essays, Male Subjectivity and Poetic Form in “New American” Poetry. His poetry and scholarly work have appeared in a number of journals and magazines, including Hambone, Talisman, Callaloo, Contemporary Literature, Crayon and Conjunctions. His new collection of poetry, Exile’s Recital, will be published by Spuyten Duyvil Press in the summer of 2016. He is an Assistant Professor in the Intellectual Heritage Program at Temple University in Philadelphia.