Code of Conduct, 1976
by Elizabeth Beck

"Torture" within the meaning of the Convention (and 8 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 208.18) is an extreme form of cruel and inhuman treatment and does not extend to lesser forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment – U.S. State Department

the bicentennial
a word my eight-year-old self tucked into my brain
hot, sweaty bangs pushed across my forehead
Patty Brown and I paused our task weaving
red, white and blue crepe paper through the spokes
of our bicycles and taping little American flags
to the handlebars to beg for a coffee filter each
of semi-sweet morsels used for the cookies
her mother made. We cradled
white pleated cups holding just enough chocolate
to melt on our tongues under the grove of pine trees

I escaped after the boys released me from their forts
games of conquer and control practiced on my body
I was combat trained to zone
out and allow their curiosity to exploit my lost
innocence my father deprived me
his desire to arrange me much like Patty Brown and I
arranged my Barbie dolls in positions I knew first-

hand jobs taught with potty training and sippy cups
my two and three year old self seductive
to my thirty-three year old daddy’s
ejaculations; scalding precious flesh pure
tarnished by his venomous acid

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