I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world,
to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.

11 December 2014


 The former US vice-president Dick Cheney has defended the CIA torture programme as ‘absolutely, totally justified’ The Guardian

We all remember the towers collapsing
over and over again on our TV screens,
crumbling downwards in clouds of smoke,
and the tiny figures falling, falling.

We all recall the following reports
of all those cell phone messages.
'I love you,' they all said, the most important 
last-chance truth to tell before they died.

Now you claim it was in their name
you committed.... Torture; who does that? 
How do you choose, how do you train
those who will coldly perform cruel harm?

What startles me is the fuss of surprise
now that the facts are out. Surely,
didn't everyone know? I did! I only
had to look at the Aussie they returned.

He came back broken. And the other,
the one they kept so much longer,
his health will never recover from years,
yes, years of — say it — torture.

News flash, CIA: you can't get
useful information from innocent men.
This country is their home and it's mine:
so they are family. My anger is not done.

And I understand America's anger
at the burning towers and the bodies
forever falling. But now your Government 
is just the same. So is ours. They knew.

And if they didn't, they should have known,
not turning the blind eye, swallowing lies.
There is no justification. There never was.
We are all terrorists until we reject revenge.

Submitted for Poets United's Midweek Motif: Human Rights 


  1. What a powerful last line...yes indeed when our actions are no more humane than those we blame 'we' really are no better...the world really isn't right or good at times...i am glad however that there are people who question and write the truth

  2. oWOOOOO! Wow! The entire poem builds up to that perfect last line.

    1. Thank you. And thanks for the prompt. You and I were much on the same wave length with this topic!

  3. YES!!!!!!!!!! The US reacts with such outrage at other countries' abuse of human rights and seems to reserve for itself the right to torture because in their case it is "justified". It is NEVER justified. In any country. Fantastic response to the prompt, Rosemary. Love your closing line.

    1. The Australian Governments of the recent past were also at fault. Britain ripped its citizens out of Guantanamo quick-smart; Australia, toadying to the US, left ours there despite mounting evidence of their innocence.

  4. very strong poem with truth and nothing else..

  5. Rosemary,

    Your poem has what most people aleady thought about, and knew...The two evils and retaliation, cannot justify the actions which were invoked..The world is a much unsafer state than ever.


    1. Thank you, Eileen. I'm glad you find these views widespread. Sadly, I think the 'They deserved whatever they got' view is also still widespread.

  6. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. So we do not need to know that torture, oppression and murder happen because a government decides that is just. If you haven;t done anything wrong, don't worry about it. Except that I do because my government is not representing me!

    1. Well said. When the government doesn't represent the people revolution is often the result.

    2. I think Mr Cheney hopes to persuade us all of his opinion.

  7. I completely agree with you on this subject. I think it is very wrong of someone to be tortured. Where do we draw the line? Is one of the largest questions we ask. A lot of people cannot even answer it.

    1. If it did not happen AT ALL, in any circumstances, to anyone, there would be no line to draw. What chance of that, I wonder?

  8. I could not agree with your last line more Rosemary. Thank you for saying the words we feel but only roll our mute tongue around.

    1. For me the plight of women in this country is far more important than a Cuban outpost where war prisoners are being tortured. Because of the entrenched violence against women one Australian woman is killed every week and one every three hours is hospitalised. Admittedly, comparatively speaking not such a sensational issue but it says everything that no one gives a rats about it. I don't agree with any brutality and in particular societal consensual acceptance of brutality towards my own gender. I find this outpouring of horror at the torture taking place at G Bay disingenuous when most ignore what is going on in the same street.

    2. The CIA thing happened to be fresh in the news when I wrote, and my anger was stirred anew. The shocking incidence of domestic violence would also have made a good subject on this topic; so would our Government's torture of detainees at places like Manus Island. No shortage of subjects, unfortunately. I usually write about them in the form of letters to politicians.

    3. PS Although I am horrified by the idea of torture of anyone in any circumstances, the poem does specifically mention 'innocent men', not war criminals.

  9. That last line is an awesome, declaration of truth! Pure timeless wisdom!

    1. More pertinent than ever to Aussies right now, after the Sydney siege!