Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sand Opera Lenten Journey Day 12: "The Blues of Ken Davis" (Living With Ghosts and Demons)

Sand Opera Lenten Journey Day 12

Brothers and sisters:
Our citizenship is in heaven, 
            --Paul’s letter to the Philippians 3:20

The Blues of Ken Davis

and I remember calling
home that night and saying
I can’t take this anymore

if this is what we’re going
to do if this is what we’ve become
then I’m done

they say talk to a chaplain
they say it’s all your perception
and every night it’s amazing

because you’re lying there
no matter how much music you play
no matter how loud you turn it up

you still can hear █████


Americans’ refusal to admit the truth about our torture program adds an extra dimension to these soldiers’ pain. The only thing more frustrating than people not believing what you say is true, is when those truths are things that have destroyed your life. Ken Davis, a guard caught in some of the infamous Abu Ghraib abuse photos, explains, “A lot of soldiers, when we come back, are lost. It’s especially true for a unit accused of abuse, when you hear lies about what happened, and people deny what you saw.  And now we live with ghosts and demons that will haunt us for the rest of our lives.”
From “We Live With Ghosts and Demons: Soldiers Who Took Part in Torture Suffer from Severe PTSD” at

Reflection from Raymond Lennon

I recall how, in the depths of Northern Ireland's suffering, I still retained a quite respectable distance while a yard away my neighbour was shot dead, a house and small store were bombed. Oddly enough I was at Church that morning when he died and our neighbourhood link to newspapers, tobacco and confectionary was reduced to rubble and Leslie lay propped against a wall mortally wounded. And I talked and talked and still do talk to those who acted out those events with their words and with their hands and triggers and fuses. This was a cold, unreal and scary perception for me. To parley with the feared. They had the potential to terrify me but I could NOT allow this or I would have given in to the entire dynamic. Instead I had to opt for looking at this scene, and walk past that event, as if it were a news report, yet yards away, day by day until Leslie was  buried and the rubble removed, leaving wasteland.

This mental distancing allowed me space to regard the reality-perception-truth to become far enough in some odd way yet terribly painful as I reflect. And allowed my head to dialogue and seek to calm the forces which were driving these realities-perception-truths, even to the point of befriending demons, to reach a better place in my head and heart.

--Raymond Lennon is a graduate of Queen’s University, Belfast and has been pursuing doctoral studies there.  He was been Departmental Head in Corpus Christi College, probably in one of the most strife torn areas of Belfast. He was Student Counsellor for the Freshman year. He was a close friend and collaborator with Fr Alec Reid, the acclaimed Peace Priest of Clonard Monastery.Stemming from his Youth and Community work during the worst days of the Troubles he was approached to assist programs designed to help United States students learn from the Peace Process in Belfast. Consequently, for the past 10 years he has been coordinating and developing immersion programs for US College and High School students. He has worked closely with the John Carroll University faculty and students in Cleveland. He has also developed crucial political and former paramilitary contacts in Belfast. He is convinced that what is learnt here will assist Americans to become peace builders at home and elsewhere.


Maureen said...

Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil

Pulling down guard duty
is the worst.

Like I said, it’s no better
than bein’ dead,

‘cause you gotta be dead
deep down inside to go on

doin’ the stuff that happens
in that prison. Night after day

after night — bare bulbs givin’
off their eerie glow, grown men

in diapers, rose-color panties
or blindfolds, hangin’ up-

side down. And the dogs.
Damn, those dogs was fierce!

I couldn’t eat for days after
they brought in the dogs.

I hated bein’ in the pictures—
like I was takin’ part and all.

I tried to tell ‘em I couldn’t
take it. It weren’t right. Got

an extra night’s duty for that,
told I’d get worse if I didn’t

stop my damn belly-achin’.
"An order’s an order, Soldier."

Prayin' weren’t no help. G
reckoned it's all in my head.

Truth is, it is. And nobody
but nobody believes me.

Philip Metres said...

Thanks for sharing that poem, Maureen. Lynddie England actually is coming up!