You can no more waterboard yourself

than sneak up on yourself at a party
where you suffer

hiccups like knives in your sternum.

A truth will remain inaccessible
behind the eye of the moon,

pain it takes a team of physicians

even to name. A robe of chemical
accelerant pools underfoot.

Men in suits & leather gloves assemble

an invisible plane through pantomime,
& their anonymous prisoners

come to believe their altitude is deadly.

Your burden of national insignificance
turns into a black star

installed in a hollow lobby. It has only
the one point:

you can complicate your relationship

with water only so much before the brother
you swam out with

admits he was not planning to return

Listen:

Author Image

W. M. Lobko’s poems, interviews, and reviews have appeared in journals such as Kenyon Review, The Paris-American, and Spinning Jenny; work is forthcoming from Boston Review. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and was a semi-finalist for the 92Y/Boston Review “Discovery” Prize. He studied at the University of Oregon, currently teaches in the New York City area, and serves as an editor of TUBA, a new quarterly review of poetry and art.

Feature image by Jenny Holzer, X Conclusion, 2014.
Oil on linen, 80 x 62 x 1 1/2 in. (203.2 x 157.5 x 3.8 cm).
Photo credit: © Jenny Holzer. Reproduction, including downloading of Jenny Holzer works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Click on the image to enlarge.

At Guernica, we’ve spent the last 13 years producing uncompromising journalism. 

More than 80% of our finances come from readers like you. And we’re constantly working to produce a magazine that deserves you—a magazine that is a platform for ideas fostering justice, equality, and civic action.

If you value Guernica’s role in this era of obfuscation, please donate.

Help us stay in the fight by giving here.