My Brother is Getting Arrested Again

My brother is getting arrested again.

What does he want? What does he know?
We can’t talk politics. He doesn’t have politics.
I’m helpless with him.

My brother is getting arrested again.
He is not weeding community gardens.
He is not climbing on roofs to bang
with hammer on shingles, admire
his arm-hairs going gold in the sun.

My brother is getting arrested again.

My mother makes sarcastic remarks
and bails him out.
They can’t talk politics.
She’s helpless with him.

He pushes hard at a sawhorse barricade,
black bandana up over his nose.
He shouts this is what democracy looks like.

My brother is getting arrested again.

He’s not lending a hand at needle exchanges.
Not fishing from pier’s end with his best buddy, Dad.
He might be facing the incoming clouds.

He’s not wearing pinstripes, seersucker, wingtips,
not dressing down for casual Friday. He doesn’t care
about the future of Krispy Kreme stock.

My father clears his throat. He says “being pro-Palestinian
is anti-Semitic.” They can’t talk politics.
My father is helpless with him.

The barricade breaks,
the yellow do-not-cross crossbeam
smacks to the ground.

My little sister says, snippily, “I agree with him—
in principle.” They don’t talk politics.
She’s helpless with him.

My brother is getting arrested again.

A sudden melee, my brother disappearing.
He sucks in others like a star imploding.

He’s down, he’s lifted away,
wrists latched behind his back.

Now he stinks from the heat on the prison bus.
Now he’s stuffed in a holding cell with eight other protesters.
Now they take apart the sandwiches they get in jail.
They eat the bread—they toss
the orange limp cheese square at the wall.
It sticks. Collaborative chem-processed
chance-operation artwork. It’s a whale!
It’s the mayor! It’s the moon!
No sleep for three days and three nights,
the lights never go out, the delirious
buzzed noise of themselves. They can’t
take a shower. They sass the guards,
chant protest chants. This is what democracy
smells like. The funniest joke they ever told.

My brother signs his name on a paper, gets out.

And now?

Is he hopping dancelessly obedient
to directional arrows on a suburban mall machine
called Dance Dance Revolution?

Is he driving a waverunner in circles and laughing
on the filthy Delaware, our city’s river?
Is he advanced degreeing in the even-weathered West?

Is he climbing Mt. Rainier?

Nope. Come rain, or shine, or sweat, or hope,
my brother is getting arrested again.

From My Brother is Getting Arrested Again by Daisy Fried © 2006. Reprinted by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.