Is Not (Don’t Interrupt the Sorrow)

        in memory of Eric Garner, 1970–2014

A Taser is not an answer
A rushing bullet is not a dream

There is no sunny god
In an Apollo Helmet

A livelong mercenary is not
A frisking meadow lamb

Lady Justice is no 
Fearsome chimera

No lurking drone
No business-as-usual Cerberus

A callous Caesar is not
A far-seeing Christ—


Listen: a blazing Mississippi cross 
Never presages a messiah.

A daffodil in a “sundown town” never signals
The onset of spring—


So after two callous seasons,
I finally dared to inquire

If his taken-too-soon father’s ousting
“Stand Your Ground” assassin

Was indeed white, “lily-white”
& naturally his response

In this volatile demesne,
This gallery of averted eyes

& gimcrack defenders galore
Was yes 

Dear God of course yes


Don’t interrupt the sorrow
A woman croons

But all I catch is the ack-ack-ack
Of ink-blotter redaction, 

The X-rated sputter of a black site’s 
Water-boarded man

Or a flailing cigarette seller,
Cuffed, gasping for air,

Jinxing arm & insignia
Marring his throat:

Is not

Is not

Is not

Is not—

Copyright © 2022 by Cyrus Cassells. From The World That the Shooter Left Us (Four Way Books, 2022). Used with permission of the author.