A Short Lexicon of Torture in the Eighties
That’s not a man in pain
but a Brazilian phone—
It won’t be making any outgoing calls.
That’s not a woman sprawling on the floor
But an old-fashioned dance,
like the tango.
Pull up a chair with a knotted rope.
Let’s have a tea party with toast
and hors d’oeuvres.
Let’s take a seat
on the parrot’s perch.
Let’s rock to the Motorola with headphones.
Do you want to bathe
in the porcelain tub?
Do you want to sing to the little hare?
Let’s stroll over to the guest room.
Let’s take a bus ride
to the San Juanica bridge.
Forget the ovens and smokestacks.
Forge the rack and screw,
the tiger’s cage.
We’re celebrating a birthday party
in your honor.
We’re lighting candles on your favorite cake.
We’re taking you to a parade
on a sandy beach.
You’re going down in a submarine.
Edward Hirsch, “A Short Lexicon of Torture in the Eighties” from The Night Parade. Copyright © 1989 by Edward Hirsch.