The dirty girl in the surgically clean bed
reads for news the views the powers promulgate.
She wonders: Are the truth and honour dead?
Are they silenced by the modern state’s dictate?
In the bed next to hers, a mute Phi Beta Kappa
kept catatonic, intravenous tubes
suffusing him with state-mandated grappa,
tries again to die, and failing, mutters cubes
of all the primes from three to five and back
until the girl starts screaming for a nurse.
The minders pour warm ashes on her back
and warn her what will happen should she curse
the powers that protect her from the scares
that they, the powers, make up to convince
the population that their leader cares
for them in spite of all the evidence.
They warn her not to slag the one percent
who own everything and want to have it all
their way, not hers. They tell her she is meant
to be grateful for this bed where she can’t fall
afoul of the cops who hunt rebellious girls.
‘I am not a rebel,’ she says, but she knows,
as the ashes settle and her memory whirls,
that she will be. Her desire for freedom grows.