User send poem with suggestion it describes Ministry of Ethics

The Examination

 Under the thick beams of that swirly smoking light,          

The black robes are clustering, huddled in together.

Hunching their shoulders, they spread short, broad sleeves          

like night- Black grackles’ wings; then they reach bone-yellow           

   leathery fingers, each to each. And are prepared. Each turns            

His single eye–or since one can’t discern their eyes,

That reflective single, moon-pale disc which burns  

Over each brow–to watch this uncouth shape that lies

Strapped to their table. One probes with his ragged nails   

The slate-sharp calf, explores the thigh and the lean thews

Of the groin. Others raise, red as pirate sails         

His wing, stretching, trying the pectoral sinews.

One runs his finger down the whet of that cruel   

Golden beak, lifts back the horny lids from the eyes,

Peers down in one bright eye malign as a jewel,   

And steps back suddenly. “He is anaesthetized?”

“He is. He is. Yes. Yes.” The tallest of them, bent   

Down by the head, rises: “This drug possesses powers

Sufficient to still all gods in this firmament.

This is Garuda who was fierce. He’s yours for hours.

“We shall continue, please.” Now, once again, he bends    

To the skull, and its clamped tissues.

Into the cranial cavity, he plunges both of his hands

like obstetric forceps and lifts out the great brain,

Holds it aloft, then gives it to the next who stands  

Beside him. Each, in turn, accepts it, although loath,

Turns it this way, that way, feels it between his hands      

Like a wasp’s nest or some sickening outsized growth.

They must decide what thoughts each part of it must think;       

They tap at, then listen beside, each suspect lobe;

Next, with a crow’s quill dipped into India ink,        

Mark on its surface, as if on a map or globe,

Those dangerous areas which need to be excised.

They rinse it, then apply antiseptics to it;

Now silver saws appear which, inch by inch, slice

Through its ancient folds and ridges, like thick suet.

It’s rinsed, dried, and daubed with thick salves. The smoky saws

Are scrubbed, resterilized, and polished till they gleam.

The brain is repacked in its case. Pinched in their claws,    

Glimmering needles stitch it up, that leave no seam.

Meantime, one of them has set blinders to the eyes,          

Inserting light packing beneath each of the ears,

And caulked the nostrils in. One, with thin twine, ties      

The genitals off. With long wood-handled shears,

Another chops pinions out of the scarlet wings.

It’s hoped that with disuse he will forget the sky

Or, at least, in time, learn, among other things,       

To fly no higher than his superiors fly.  

Well; that’s a beginning. The next time, they can split      

His tongue and teach him to talk correctly, can give

Him opinions on fine books and choose clothing fit

For the integrated area where he’ll live.

Their candidate may live to give them thanks one day.      

He will recover and may hope for such success.

He might return to join their ranks. Bowing away,  

They nod, whispering, “One of ours; one of ours. Yes. Yes.”

            – W.D. Snodgrass

2.   .

 

3.    

 

4.   -

 

5.    

 

6.   -

 

     

 

     

 

7. y fingers, each to each. And are prepared. Each turns  

 

8.   His single eye–or since one can’t discern their eyes,

 

9. That reflective single, moon-pale disc which burns  

 

10.   Over each brow–to watch this uncouth shape that lies

 

     

 

     

 

11. Strapped to their table. One probes with his ragged nails  

 

12.   The slate-sharp calf, explores the thigh and the lean thews

 

13. Of the groin. Others raise, red as pirate sails  

 

14.   His wing, stretching, trying the pectoral sinews.

 

     

 

     

 

15. One runs his finger down the whet of that cruel  

 

16.   Golden beak, lifts back the horny lids from the eyes,

 

17. Peers down in one bright eye malign as a jewel,  

 

18.   And steps back suddenly. “He is anaesthetized?”

 

     

 

     

 

19. “He is. He is. Yes. Yes.” The tallest of them, bent  

 

20.   Down by the head, rises: “This drug possesses powers

 

21. Sufficient to still all gods in this firmament.  

 

22.   This is Garuda who was fierce. He’s yours for hours.

 

     

 

     

 

23. “We shall continue, please.” Now, once again, he bends  

 

24.   To the skull, and its clamped tissues. Into the cran-

 

25. ial cavity, he plunges both of his hands  

 

26.   like obstetric forceps and lifts out the great brain,

 

     

 

     

 

27. Holds it aloft, then gives it to the next who stands  

 

28.   Beside him. Each, in turn, accepts it, although loath,

 

29. Turns it this way, that way, feels it between his hands  

 

30.   Like a wasp’s nest or some sickening outsized growth.

 

     

 

     

 

31. They must decide what thoughts each part of it must think;  

 

32.   They tap at, then listen beside, each suspect lobe;

 

33. Next, with a crow’s quill dipped into India ink,  

 

34.   Mark on its surface, as if on a map or globe,

 

     

 

     

 

35. Those dangerous areas which need to be excised.  

 

36.   They rinse it, then apply antiseptics to it;

 

37. Now silver saws appear which, inch by inch, slice  

 

38.   Through its ancient folds and ridges, like thick suet.

 

     

 

     

 

39. It’s rinsed, dried, and daubed with thick salves. The smoky saws  

 

40.   Are scrubbed, resterilized, and polished till they gleam.

 

41. The brain is repacked in its case. Pinched in their claws,  

 

42.   Glimmering needles stitch it up, that leave no seam.

 

     

 

     

 

43. Meantime, one of them has set blinders to the eyes,  

 

44.   Inserting light packing beneath each of the ears,

 

45. And caulked the nostrils in. One, with thin twine, ties  

 

46.   The genitals off. With long wood-handled shears,

 

     

 

     

 

47. Another chops pinions out of the scarlet wings.  

 

48.   It’s hoped that with disuse he will forget the sky

 

49. Or, at least, in time, learn, among other things,  

 

50.   To fly no higher than his superiors fly.

 

     

 

     

 

51. Well; that’s a beginning. The next time, they can split  

 

52.   His tongue and teach him to talk correctly, can give

 

53. Him opinions on fine books and choose clothing fit  

 

54.   For the integrated area where he’ll live.

 

     

 

     

 

55. Their candidate may live to give them thanks one day.  

 

56.   He will recover and may hope for such success.

 

57. He might return to join their ranks. Bowing away,  

 

58.   They nod, whispering, “One of ours; one of ours. Yes. Yes.”

 

  – W.D. Snodgrass

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