Protection by Michael Peck

First they frightened us –
then they protected us
from what frightened us
or so they said –
then they made it mandatory
that we allow their protection
whether we wanted it or not –
they jailed those who refused
for their own protection.
They know better than us
what we need.
They told our families
friends, neighbors
that we were a risk
to them
we didn’t accept the rules –
they could protect all of us only
if we all obeyed –
I protested
the loss of my personal freedom
I thought we were all losing
something which could not be replaced
when I woke up
bandaged and broken
in a windowless concrete room
I was told
I had terrorist contacts
and I was being held without bail.
Screams filled the corridor
the sounds of animals
caught in a trap.
Their cries filled
with pain, fear, hopelessness –
now the face of the enemy
is our own face
flags, language, country
no longer matter.
yes they are still used
but the word terrorist
knows no boundaries, race, religion –
all the leaders
are in on the game
peddling fear
to build their armies, arsenals
to protect their people –
I screamed at the locked door
that this was unlawful
I had rights
to an attorney, to representation
to a trial –
they laughed menacingly
and knocked me down again
calling me a terrorist
an enemy of the people –
I demanded my rights
as a citizen-
they told me, terrorists,
have no rights
no country
and shut the door.

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