Words aren’t swords, or bombs, gunpowder, rifles, dragons. Not a scaffold with a waiting noose. Words aren’t religion, airplanes, torn-out panic buttons, flagpoles or fire extinguishers. Not a zip tie. Not a wick. Just the flame. * Rioters climb through the broken glass. Just one bullet, roses blooming from the hole in one white throat. * From mad rush to single-file when they see the velvet ropes -- some instinct or manners turns the mob obedient, gives the prey essential seconds to escape. * A rioter brags his sharpened flagpole is for “someone special.” Others yell for Pence, Pelosi, AOC, their “hidden” offices circled on maps. * Praise to the officers, outnumbered and battered. Praise to the clerk who thought to grab the votes. Praise to the selfie-posting killers’ desire for fame. Praise to crews who soap the shit-stained halls. * Woman with a Don’t Tread on Me banner trampled to death. Rioter tasers himself in the groin. Though reporters mock the fur-clad people as cosplayers, my daughter corrects, That’s live-action role play. * Blood and feces scrubbed away, already the story’s changing. Lies fester in the aftermath. Rage-filled gun buyers prepare for the next round. The horned one eats organic food in jail.
Say, mind on your new job, you change lanes, don’t signal, And a cop sees you, his skin white and thin, N-words stashed in his heart the way a perp hides Drugs. Asked to snuff your smoke, you know your Rights. Question history about how far that gets you. Ask the holstered gun. Because there are no witnesses, we’ll never Learn exactly when or how A plastic bag that shouldn’t be there finds your Neck. A tragedy but not a crime, they say. You can’t Disagree or finger anyone.
Skittles, iced tea, unarmed. Seventeen years old. Looks like he’s up to no good…he’s just star- ing at me. Though cops tell Zimmerman to stay in his truck, he gets out to find a stre- et sign. Fox News anchors rave about gold teeth, suspension, drugs. Show Trayv- on pose tough, blow smoke. Never vary the message. Mock Rachel Jeantel, her tart tongue mumbling, That’s real reta- rded, sir. Dangerous. Dumb. Thug. The strate- gy works. The dead kid’s guilty. The defense can rest.
©2022 Alison Stone
All rights reserved
…has published seven full-length collections, Zombies at the Disco (Jacar Press, 2020), Caught in the Myth (NYQ Books, 2019), Dazzle (Jacar Press, 2017), Masterplan, collaborative poems with Eric Greinke (Presa Press, 2018), Ordinary Magic, (NYQ Books, 2016), Dangerous Enough (Presa Press 2014), and They Sing at Midnight, which won the 2003 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Award; as well as three chapbooks. She has been awarded Poetry’s Frederick Bock Prize and New York Quarterly’s Madeline Sadin Award.