Michael Broek

The Logic of Yoo 22

So Hobbes argued that life is “nasty, brutish, and short,”
which seemed pretty well common sense
(my carpet smells of sour grapes and the last woman I brought
home) but then his solution, since he was a humanitarian
& interested in love was the Leviathan, the corpus regnum,
the Big Daddy, the Darth Vader, to which Filmer did not object
per se, but having misplaced Hobbes’ memo in the loo
argued that the monarch was descended from Adam,
and as Adam had dominion, ipso facto, so did King (insert name here),
all very logical, supported by textual evidence, in fact, citations!


Which Hobbes thought was so much bollocks
since one hardly needed the imprimatur of divinity if one’s
cudgel was big enough and one wasn’t afraid
to use it, though one needed, first, the cudgel, which most arguments
of this type required. But then Locke, meek and forlorn Locke,
coveting his neighbor’s property, called them both on the carpet,
citing Natural Law!, Democracy! & the Biblical necessity
of capitalism & stealing the Indians’ fruit trees,
all very logical, supported by textual evidence, in fact, citations!


“Another improvement we made over Treblinka
was that we built our gas chamber
to accommodate 2,000 people at one time.”6


I so wanted this to work.
The logic of epistemology.


So that KcA reads “Agent c knows A”
Or BcA reads “Agent c believes A”
So that what was known, say the rate of human decomposition
given the set of conditions: temperature, moisture, soil composition, season,
whether the body was covered or uncovered, computed,
verified by previous observations such as those
borrowed by Gen. MacArthur from the torturers at Unit 731,
would yield what is now suddenly more known: the body is a vessel
made of hinges & ropes & it breaks, most certainly.


Though what is believed, say the music of the spheres
or that one loves the other & vice versa is less easily testable
if not equally known, given the set of information that one can access
& therein lies the secret detention camp of my beliefs


such that BcA: in all possible worlds compatible
with what c believes, it is the case that A is the equation
of holding my head in the toilet while it is flushed.


“Children of tender years were invariably exterminated since
by reason of their youth they were unable to work.”7


The logic of Théodicée holds that my penis is not a weapon
because God made me of flesh & not of iron.


The logic of embrasure holds that it is an opening
through which I have aimed my cannon,
embraser means to set fire & embrasser to take you in my arms
& my belief that murder is not a sin depends on the context
of three men, something we have given the name
waterboard & a small can with a spout the janitor uses
to keep the flowers alive.


I don’t blame Yoo.
Maybe the philosophes. Melville scholar & ranked
ping-pong player William Spanos blames the Terra Anthropologica
& so do I. In the country of myself
I am no torturer.


If intent equals goal, as Yoo said it does, then
I am never your torturer.


My intent is to get to work, not to run you down
on your bicycle.


My intent is to pay my rent, be a moral person, not
participate in your magic tricks.


You who had the misfortune to stand between me
& my intent, you are


an escarpment to me, not a destination.


Though I may travel many miles
hearing this screaming
under the belly of my car –
just the muffler, a piece of sheet metal –


some wire will fix it,
bound tight against the chassis, this chest.


I would blame the poets, their discoveries,
which are like the New World to the aborigines
whom he would like to think
thought, “Are you kidding me?”


Plato had it right. Fuck the poets.
Dawn as night. Night as the y-axis of cotton candy.
This was the logic of metaphor.
Sense run up the mast to blow in the breeze.
“What ho! Tashtego,” nailing your red pennant
while your ship founders into the darkening Pacific
& the whale’s jaws come
to swallow your Indian-ness, which is not
even your real name.



6“Testimony of Rudolph Hoess, Commandant of Auschwitz,” Nuremburg War Crimes Trials, 15 April 15 1946
7“Testimony of Rudolf Hoess.”

“The Logic of Yoo 22” first appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Fall 2011.