Michael Broek

The Logic of Yoo 6

He had heard of this John C. Yoo, what he had written                                          US Code

while soldiers packed black-hooded men into planes                                            Section 2340A:

& wondered how far they could go, when it would be too                                     “torture is an act

much & for how long it could be endured, but Yoo                                   committed by a person

was a bartender, a mixologist, making                                                         intended to inflict

adjustments – too sweet, too bitter – so skilled (is this                                                      severe

what one knew after Harvard & Yale?) at jiggers & proofs,                                    physical siphoning

cheap vodkas into designer blue bottles,                                                     or mental pain

switching labels on the Johnny Walker – Red to Black.1                                        and suffering

The hoods were not for the prisoners. The hoods were not                    (other than pain or

the opposite of maps or the soldiers’ names, which were                                       suffering

already blank. The hoods were a permission.                                            incidental to lawful

Lights dimmed, music cupping its sonorous white hands                                      sanctions)”

around the prisoners’ ears, it was easy not

to meet the eyes, just to look at the lines in the grain

of the bar, serve up the shots. What was war, what evil,

what measurements could be brought to bear?




1 Matt Labash, “The Passion of Dick Cheney,” The Weekly Standard, 22 September 2008, sec. 14, 2. In an interview, the Vice President reveals that his Scotch of choice is Johnny Walker Red.

“The Logic of Yoo 6” first appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Fall 2011.