Sunday Poem

Interrogator’s Notebook

We learned to translate minesweeper
from Russian, read a relief map upside down,
empty a man with the least effort possible.

A soldier is an open book when the ink
is his fingertip. Sometimes even the subtle
tricks will do: waking a prisoner every few

minutes, pulling triggers of unloaded revolvers,
smiles that mimic a closing vise. We wrote
about stolen battle plans, officer predilections

and desperate meanderings. But the truth
can only be found inside men and what we do
when no can see our hate and intervene.

The Interrogator’s Notebook is the scariest
tome I know, more frightening when closed.
That means the questions have ended

and another long night begins for captured
troops who warm themselves with shadows
as a roof of desert stars pierce their eyes,

shards of light pulsing beneath the skin.
If God is the purveyor of all things unseen,
we should pray in every language we know.

by Martin Ott

from New Plains Review, Fall 2009