Michael Broek

The Logic of Yoo 13

In a paper he wrote for another student, the topic was voyeurism
& he found that when Marie Antoinette was imprisoned in the Conciergerie

 

awaiting execution, une garde never left her room. She slept, ate & prayed
all under his gaze, his body hidden behind a tall screen
but his head protruding above, like a phantasm, a secret eye
hidden in plain sight, a panopticon of one, voyeur itself French, for to see.

 

The concierge named his castle after himself, proud master of the keep,
master of the three towers: Caesar, Silver, & Bonbec, the last,

 

where the torturer slept, between prisoners, bon bec, or “good beak,” which
is the problem with the literal, since the torturer operates by analogies:
make him squeal, make him sing, bring in the Judas chair, break out the veil.
Hamida Djandoubi, the last person guillotined, 1977, a Tunisian, an amputee

 

before his execution, “quite flexible despite his wound,”
himself a torturer, selling Algerian girls for sex, like Barthes said of France

 

(by analogy). Marcel Chevalier the last executioner, beheader-in-chief,
knight on horseback, chivalrous because he drew the veil, forty times.
“You have informed us that he appears to have a fear of insects.”
When they kept him awake, in that room with lights, where the mornings

 

kept tripping over night, Yoo wrote, “no more than eleven days at a time,”
did he go blind from all the seeing …. have I?


Michael Broek
“The Logic of Yoo 13” first appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Fall 2011.