(Stand Your Ground) In this one, ladies and gentlemen, Beware, be clear: the brown man, The able lawyer, the paterfamilias, Never makes it out of the poem alive: The rash, all-too-daily report, The out of the blue bullet Blithely shatters our treasured Legal eagle’s bones and flesh— In the brusque spectacle of point-blank force, On a crimsoned street, Where a revered immigrant plummets Over a contested parking spot, And the far-seeing sages insist, Amid strident maenads Of at-the-ready patrol car sirens, Clockwork salvos, The charismatic Latino lawyer’s soul Is banished, elsewhere, without a shred Of eloquence in the matter— And the brute, churning Surfaces of the world, They bear our beloved citizen away— Which means, austere saints And all-seeing masters, If I grasp your bracing challenge: At our lives’ most brackish hour, Our highest mission isn’t just to bawl, But to turn the soul-shaking planet Of the desecrated parking lot (The anti-miracle), The blunt, irascible white man’s Unnecessary weapon, And the ruse of self-defense Into justice-cries and ballots? Into newfound pledges and particles of light? in memory of J. Garza, 1949-2017
Copyright © 2018 by Cyrus Cassells. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 30, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.