The Torture Garden

By Phil Ochs

You've seen the artist at work; now you can watch him at his leisure
No, there must be some mistake, I've only come here to deliver the carnival
No, there's no mistake.  You and the other deserters are only out for
personal pleasure
farewell you fiend, he gasped leaping on the turntable and his body
was found
33 and 1/3 inches under the ground
under the underground of the torture garden.

The banana police have surrounded the monastery
come out with your legs crossed they shout thru the petal splitting speakers
the  high appeals have found you guilty of sobriety
so take off your wretched robes and hang up your silken sneakers
and before they could say hare krishna
they were discharged and drowned
in the underground nightmare nozzles
of the torture garden

The night watchman jealously guards every day as a vacation
he pretends not to notice the foliage that falls from the track of the
greenhouse train
he has a fetish for turtles who help him guard the station
and had had no choice when one was swept under the barbed wire drain
breaking all the rules he dug his way under the roots of the wall
and was never again seen
though someone heard a scream
almost inhuman
in the echoes of the underground of the torture garden

The democratice salesmen have taken out a billboard on the strip
pacifying the passing motorists not to stop for winter's whistles
and three airlines have crashed, their engines gutted with bunches of tulips
The Laurel Canyon forest fire apparently was caused by guided missiles
every unimportant figure has recently sustained an accident
and the fertilizer crew
has had an epidemic of flue
while working double time in the underground of the torture garden.

The rebels and anarchists are publicized by Time Magazine
their impossible pictures are splashed on the sand of their target's
breakfast tables
something must be done, why don't they call out the Marines
and gurgling cologne in the bathroom they complain their stocks are unstable
a concentration camp would be too much camp
the candidates from both parties agree
the two party system is what makes this country free
broadcast live from the ballroom of the underground
of the torture garden.

The city rises ravaged in the Menchevik morning
they rub chemicals on their skin heathens of a healthy glow
oh my god, oh my god, oh my god haven't we had enough warning
type the tomahawk typewriters while quoting Thoreau
the candy sweet aroma exhausts the air-conditioned air
and every hour on the  half-hour

the recorded voice repeats
for Christ's sakes
will you or will  you not take this flower
freshly grown
in the ground of the underground
of the torture garden.


c. 1967, this poem appeared in "The War Is Over" songbook and the cd booklet for All The News That's Fit To Sing

Last modified 27 May 02 by trent