History Notes

Poem by Daryl Scroggins


“I would bring back waterboarding and I would bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.” — Donald Trump
“We thank You and praise You for a bold man, a strong man, and an obedient man.” — Rev. Kenneth Copeland, praying with Donald Trump

Executions at dawn; executions at noon;
firing squads at dusk; afternoon burnings
in town squares; executions of people
already lying in their graves; executions
in rain and mud; lynchings on Sundays
with picnic prepared; sacrifices at cliffside
with one loop of the living victim’s intestine
tied to a tree limb before the push; hangings
with offspring watching; hangings with parents
watching; blond girl tied on hilltop
frequented by carnivores; flayings with
carding combs until praying stops;
bricked into darkness of some other’s
tomb; hacked in lines like sugarcane
harvest; toppled into rocky shafts; tipped
into volcanoes; lowered slowly into
circling sharks; lowered into boiling oil;
closed away inside an iron bull soon to
glow red; set up for target practice
to receive stones, arrows, spears, bullets,
anti-aircraft gun fire; chainsaws;
dragged at the end of a chain; and how much
must be absent from such a list, given
the flashing cinema of human history,
in which pain and the engine of death
are given a serene nod to commence
by those momentarily spared? Those
content to identify strangers, and odd ones,
and hungry ones, as deserving of
subtraction from love — even as they require
their own gods
to smile upon such practice.

DARYL SCROGGINS taught Creative Writing and Literature at both the University of Texas and North Texas. His poems, short stories, and creative nonfiction have appeared in various magazines and anthologies, and his most recent book is This Is Not the Way We Came In, a flash collection and a flash novel (Ravenna Press).