Charles Graner Is Not America

By Geoffrey Brock Geoffrey Brock
Let’s get this straight: Charles Graner   
is not America. America would never   
hold a knife to his wife’s throat, then say
when she woke that he was considering
killing her. And America’s wife in turn
would never call her husband “my own
Hannibal Lecter.” Am I right, or what?   
Charles Graner may be Hannibal Lecter,   
but he is not America. America is not that   
kind of husband. Nor would America email
his adolescent children photos of himself
torturing naked Iraqi prisoners and say
“look what Daddy gets to do!” Am I right?
America is not that kind of father. America   
would never torture naked Iraqi prisoners.   
Let’s be absolutely clear about all of this.
And America’s ex-lover and co-defendant
would never whisper to the sketch artist   
at America’s trial: “You forgot the horns.”   
Charles Graner may or may not have horns,
but America is horn-free. America does not
torture prisoners. America may render them,   
fully clothed, to Egypt or Syria, for further   
interrogation, or to men like Charles Graner,   
but America is not, ipso facto, Egypt or Syria,   
and Charles Graner is not now nor has he ever
been America. And don’t talk to me about
Guantanamo. Please! Let’s get this straight.   
You and I know who America is. We know   
what America does and doesn’t do, because we
(not Charles Graner!) are America. Am I right?   
Is this all clear? Tell me—am I right, or what?

“Charles Graner Is Not America” by Geoffrey Brock, first published in Subtropics (spring/summer 2006). Copyright © 2006 by the author. Used by permission.

Source: Subtropics (spring/summer 2006) (Self-published, 2006)

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Poet Geoffrey Brock

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Social Commentaries, History & Politics, War & Conflict, Crime & Punishment

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Geoffrey  Brock


Born in Atlanta, Geoffrey Brock received an MFA from the University of Florida and a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. Brock’s poetry has been featured in several anthologies, including Best American Poetry 2007. His first collection of poetry, Weighing Light (2005), won the New Criterion Poetry Prize.

Commenting on the resemblance of Brock’s poetry to Philip Larkin’s, critic David C. Ward noted that Brock “invests his . . .

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SUBJECT Social Commentaries, History & Politics, War & Conflict, Crime & Punishment

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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