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Monday, June 18, 2007


by Andrew Grossman

1 #489df

Full Name: Abu Ubdullah al-Sizari
Born: September 9, 1983
Birthplace: Salt Desert Region
Height: 5'8" Weight: 134
Position: Likely Al-Queda recruit
Physical Detail: Left-handed/scar on lower right back approx. 3 inches in length/broken nose
How Obtained: 101st AB sweep of Herat suburb in August 2003
Information Obtained: pending

Once, if my memories are still my own, my life
Was a feast where all hearts opened and all wines flowed.
Now misfortune is my God. The wolf spits out the beating heart.

They ask for a name I can hardly think is mine.
They ask me to sing of betrayal, of small detail.
They beat me for the smile I cannot hide.

Ask me why I smile in the baking light of the cell.
It is because I am not the man, and so would sing in vain.
It is true, I was the man when I came to this hotel,

But that has changed. The voice loses itself first,
The form loses its integrity second, and lastly,
The self is gone like a drunken bee into the alley.

2. #892ud

Full Name: Mhammed Begg
Born: circa 193
Birthplace: Quandaha Province
Height: 5'4" Weight: 12
Position: Likely Al-Queda recruitPhysical Detail: Missing right eye. Missing two toes on left foot.
How Obtained: Came with son
Information Obtained: pending

I am forced into the coffin. I am where the blanket enwraps the spirit.
What came near me, alone, was the silver plate of the bomb.
A man and a bomb come together, and there is a new child of iron.
I look to Subai for he has given up; his soul has turned invisible.
I look to extract a mineral from my body that may nourish him,
from the open tunnel that is a cavity too old to repair.
The most alive moment comes when those who love are in tears;
liquid washes out the wounds. I have no more, either tears or blood.

3. Released #29s

The names spoken backwards
and forwards, beat upon and still beating;
the new stories are the same.
We are not grass that may turn brown.

Entry and exit. Wake and walk out.
There is no turning and no terms.
We walk toward the wall only,
having learned not to trust the sky.

4. Released #92v

I meet you in many face-to-face alleys.
The greeting of friends does not bring peace.
The help we asked for did not arrive.
We were left to gather in private ceremony.
I sheathed my identity in a concrete cell.
I learned the reality of body and tissue
And bone and brain and muscle.
I saw both worlds in the face of the wall.
You see I have no scars on my hands or feet.

These four new 'Detainee' poems are are a continuation of the series known as 'Guantanamo Bay' that were included in Andrew Grossman's collection, Hecuba's Other Sons and Daughters: Poems and Photos of the Iraqi War.

Andrew Grossman’s poem, “The Efficient Nurses of Florida ” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His work has been widely published and anthologized. Grossman’s new book is 100 Poems of the Iraqi War. He resides with his wife, Nancy Terrell, in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.