Daily Archives: November 30, 2014

Song Of Shootings

Originally posted 1/30/2004; revised, 6/9/2014.
Originally titled “Songs Against Police Shootings.”

Once again, a brown teenage boy
crumples leaking
onto the floor of a stairwell.

Once again, a cop states
that he thought he saw
a gun.

Do you remember them? Do you remember
her, lying in the street
with her eggshell nails and skinny legs?

Remember him,
whose house smelled of wine
and buzzed like a glove full of bees?

When they banged down his door 
they thought a host of tiny troubles 
might fly out of its ramshackle fingers

so they shot him down as he stumbled out,
shot him down as if he were
a queen, a danger queen.

Remember 
all the dead salty-throated 
boys and girls

who were in the wrong places
at the wrong time — the places where
mothers’ magic
stops working?

Here you are again,
too familiar with this, too familiar
to second guess — yet you do, saying

the roof
was just a short cut
to the next building,

it was never meant to be
his final destination;
how does this happen?

You know how it happens.
You know that
is the wrong question.

You know he should have been able
to go anywhere
without this happening.

You tell this
to anyone who will listen, although
you cannot say any 
of their names aloud.

You try to remember them all —
so many names in one story.
You tremble 
as you count them.

They are safe and sleeping,
and you will not be the one
to wake them from sleep; instead

you choose to stand watch,
to sound the alarm,
to fight the urge for going — 

the urge to turn away, to be safe,
to second guess, to hide,
to ignore, to pretend.


You (Matchbook)

New poem.

You
chose the colors of the flag
and the money.

You
bought whatever
you couldn’t steal.

You
did dirt, then
made doing dirt the default.

You
won and won 
and won. 

You
reached across the table
to take us as forfeit

thinking
we had nothing left
but wasted lives to bet

because everything else
we’d ever had
was going up in smoke.

You
were close to right,
except 

you
forgot about
this matchbook.