Cheneyed Down (Caught on their Own Tenets)


Cheneyed Down (Caught on their Own Tenets)

They’ve not said the devil made them do it–
but then, they’ve not said a lot–
nothing about the clot
of what jismed through them
at the taking of another apart.

They’ve not said the devil made them do it–
They stick to the pact–
that old trade of soul
for power and largesse–
as well as their wished-for finesse
of a disproven alchemy–
that they might transmute the mess fluxed back
after water is forced through a tract
of head, lung, rectum–
(it didn’t matter up or down
as long as the subject was raped or drowned)–
into some gilded true-point tack
that might be pushed into a chart
where it would stick, smartly,
evolving into an expunged glory–
not, in other words, dissolving
with the rest of the spongy glut
of sputum, gore and gut wrenched up.

No, they’ve never said the devil
made them do it–
and, look, they took no prisoner
on an underworld tour–
one was simply tied down to the floor,
there dying not from fire but from cold–
nothing untoward–
What’s a couple of broken ribs,
dog-collared cardiac fibs?
Water water everywhere
(though not exactly drops to drink.)

They never seem to even think
the devil made them do it,
not able to see through
or past
their prop of big white hat.
How stupid is that?


A draft–I insist on calling it a draft as I know if I read it again I’ll change it some more–

for Kerry O’ Connor’s With Real Toads prompt on Mephistopheles.   I am also posting to dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night.  

Process notes for those who are not familiar with U.S. politics–Richard (Dick) Cheney was Vice President of the U.S. under George W. Bush, and was and is a proponent of the use of torture (although he refuses to call it that) in intelligence activities.  George Tenet was the then head of the CIA. The Senate Intelligence Committee has recently released a bipartisan report, based primarily on direct CIA records particularly extensive CIA emails, that details the systematic administration of torture during the Bush years.  One of the most interesting findings of the report (based upon an undisputed chronology) was that all useful intelligence was gathered from detainees prior to any torture (or in the absence of it).

The photo is taken from the Huffington Post.  No copyright infringement intended. 

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26 Comments on “Cheneyed Down (Caught on their Own Tenets)”

  1. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    I find it hard to decide on the most heinous act, revelation or death from the countless that occurred this year. As a teacher the abduction and slaughter of school children has hit me very hard, but I am sure each of us has one thing that was more sickening or hardest to bear.

    They never said the devil made them do it… Such a telling line, when sin has become ours to own, no excuses made or penance served.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Hi Kerry–I really did not mean to imply that this was the most heinous act of the year–these are first of all, old acts–and secondly–little can compare (in my eyes) with what happened in Pakistan the other day. Honestly, that is beyond evil.

      But as an American, I’ve been really sickened by this torture issue, and the denials, and it seemed to fit well with the theme. Thanks. k.

      On Sat, Dec 20, 2014 at 2:00 PM, ManicDDaily wrote:


    • ManicDdaily Says:

      ps – your note of complicity is so good and apt. I had another stanza discussing this, but it wasn’t working well, so I just took it out–but probably something like that should be included. k.

      On Sat, Dec 20, 2014 at 2:00 PM, ManicDDaily wrote:


      • Kerry O'Connor Says:

        I didn’t mean to imply that any one thing outweighed another in my previous comment. Torture and terror walk hand in hand through fields of the dead and this religious east/west conflict we are all being forced to live through will never be confined to a single year. I wouldn’t suggest you amend your approach to the topic at all.

      • ManicDdaily Says:

        Yes, I know–I just wanted to stress that I was very intrigued by the Mephistopheles aspect of it all–I agree with you that what has happened to children is particularly horrible–thanks. k.

        On Sun, Dec 21, 2014 at 11:25 AM, ManicDDaily wrote:


      • ManicDdaily Says:

        ps – also I am possibly sensitive because you cannot imagine how controversial this is in the U.S. It seems amazing that anyone would support torture, but certainly they do. k.

        On Sun, Dec 21, 2014 at 1:35 PM, Karin Gustafson wrote:

        > Yes, I know–I just wanted to stress that I was very intrigued by the > Mephistopheles aspect of it all–I agree with you that what has happened to > children is particularly horrible–thanks. k. > > On Sun, Dec 21, 2014 at 11:25 AM, ManicDDaily > wrote: > >>

      • ManicDdaily Says:

        Kerry–NOt sure I replied to the right comment! I really didn’t interpret your comment that way–I agree with you. There is plenty of horror to go around. Thanks for the great prompt. k.

  2. claudia Says:

    i think it’s terrible if an organisation that should protect people uses the same methods that terrorists would use…ugh… makes me feel sick…

  3. hedgewitch Says:

    I truly believe that what we name God or Devil exists in its purest form inside each of us, and that’s where they fight for us, and as Dylan says, you gotta serve somebody, even if you think it’s Halliburton or yourself, it’s actually one of that duplicitous pair; pretty plain who won the struggle in this case. This is unsparing and brutal poetry, k–very very clean and true as well–fine work.

  4. Grace Says:

    The end seems to justify the means or the systematic torturing of prisoners to get the information they needed ~ All this white washing is just horrible to bear ~

    Wishing you Merry Christmas Karin ~

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Well, of course, they didn’t get the information that they needed. That’s the fallacy. I don’t think it works as well as being evil. But Merry Christmas, Grace! I have written a Christmasy poem now! Which may have been better to post. But this is an issue important to me. And believe me, I lived in New York City during 9/11 so I can understand very well what they might have been feeling, but they should never have done it. k.

      On Sat, Dec 20, 2014 at 7:28 PM, ManicDDaily wrote:


  5. There is a place in my stomach that just churns about his–ten and now–pretty straightforward piece K–just wish it weren’t so

  6. markwindham Says:

    I am torn on the politics of this: my ultra-conservative political ideology runs in conflict with my religious ideology on this subject. I am in favor of going to lengths generally unacceptable to the public to obtain information which would prevent another 9/11, but i am also against the physical mis-treatment of another human. Sadly, the motivation behind this report is so politically motivated as to question its conclusions. But, then again, that is the case for everything that comes out of Washington….
    I am sure we come at things from a different political direction, but the poetry is excellent. 🙂

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thank you so much, Mark. I do think that there were partisan feelings about the release of the report, but I think that the findings of the report itself are based on actual CIA emails and CIA internal documents, so hard to say that those are politically motivated as they were not written by any political party but just taken from the CIA records. Also, I think that there is no doubt of the truth of what was done or about the chronology–the guy in particular whose information was used to find Bin Laden –the name of the courier etc–gave that information before any torture (although he was subsequently tortured. I have found John McCain’s view on this subject to be especially convincing. Putting all that aside–the question of whether it was in fact efficacious in terms of preventing another 9/11 or just payback–I tend to agree with you as to the human aspect of it and the terrible notion of inflicting that kind of pain on another human. I also find it hard to believe that doing things that are so contrary to our national ideals could make us safer, as they seed terrible hate.

      As a New Yorker, I know people were under a great deal of fear and pressure, and I’m willing to believe that some involved were well-intentioned (or in the case of some of the soldiers, pushed psychologically and not acting as themselves)– but I can’t put Cheney in that category– I find his bravura stance especially troubling in the light of his five draft deferments. K.

  7. grapeling Says:

    the sheer effrontery of that cabal – and the unexamined acceptance and continued manipulation by their cohorts and cronies – knowing that their acts increase misery, and not only not caring, but exulting in it. they have no shame. powerful pen, k, and as Hedge points out, within them without resorting or blaming some supernatural. ~

  8. Mama Zen Says:

    Claiming that the devil made them do it would imply that some wrong was done. I really don’t think that some of them get that it was.

    Besides, Cheney IS the devil.

  9. The scary thought is how much they might have enjoyed what they had been doing.. The devil knows how to speak with seperpents voice. I thought it well-known that torture has no positive effect in obtain information whatsoever…

  10. Joseph Hesch Says:

    Wish I could write such powerful and pointed verse based upon the news, Karin. Hot stuff.

  11. If it’s a draft it’s a good one; whatever crudity or ugliness remains only serves the subject. Bravo for this too. I am too sickened by it for words, right now. Also heartsick. When I was a kid my church passed around books on how the KGB tortured Christians. The tortures that our government/military has committed are equal to what I read then and was so shocked by, thinking how lucky I was to be an American.

    btw I’m pretty sure that in so many word W said God told him to do it.

  12. I cannot comment on the reasons behind acts like those used that I personally will never understand the purpose behind. When we treat anyone in an inhumane manner, regardless of the reasoning, that makes us less than the lowest creature that walks the earth. How sad. Yet, I cannot judge the man, because I have not walked in his shoes and don’t know his heart. Much food for thought in your piece, indeed.

  13. Ah.. to know the heart of cold hearted souls is to know the reptilian brain that cares not for love but only survival..

    And then no longer is the care that there are other humans…

    AS the reptilian brain will do whatever it does to survive…

    There is no understanding the reptilian brain that rules..

    It just rules.. with whatever way it plans for survival…

    IN Cheyneyed ways of colder hearted soul HE art…

    The sad song of torture is often not heard by

    by those without a human soul….

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