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Friday, July 22, 2016


Perhaps they kept crayon in the lines
their cartoon hero Mighty Mouse 
with his red cape and speedo
with yellow tights
right fist in the air
as they dream about the streets
where they save the birds from cats
Then there are the colored lights
racing through a dark city
attracting moths that fly
around the driveways
on top of their black and whites
Later in the bar with their loud spouts
taunting their fellows with jokes
or experience of the people
they've collared but not collars
steel bands and chains
that their victims see as
remnants of the days of slavery
only it's a new master
that keeps them in their neighborhood
with rifled barrel and clubs
It's still “nigger” town to some
in whatever city they prowl
who never experienced
the music of the Duke Count or Marsalis
the words of Hughes or Baldwin Giovanni
or the art of Basqiat
and photos of Parks
who never heard of this or that massacre
Rosewood or Tulsa
less than a hundred years ago
when Jim Crow was the law
Jim Beam is a policeman's blood
and kids didn't mix in schools
much to the loss of the entire population
where respect never crosses into empty hearts
when the boiling streets beg the question
from a black therapist helping an autistic patient
away from the safety of the building
who follows every command yet wonders
“Sir, why did you shoot me?”
and the answer is only
“I don't know.”

Welcome to the town near a reservation
a word that sounds like your suite
at a tall brick hotel in the hill-lined city
filled with beautiful furniture and high tea at four
where the school system rids itself
of the “injun” counselor
who managed to keep the Lakota boys in school
or the girls from hanging themselves
in their well-appointed suites
provided by their reservations
somehow eight people manage
to drown in the small creek
ruled accidents and suicides
where one witness says
she saw someone roll a body
into that creek
the witness ignored
or shootings are justified as
suicide by cop
he lunged
with a kitchen knife
The officer who just happen
to forget his less than lethal tools
where the white officers
stay away from the wacipi
at the civic center
because they know they're
not welcome
because they don't understand
the questions raised
by people whose great-grandparents
were shot down at the Knee
loved ones buried in a trench
by soldiers awarded
Congressional Medals of Honor
Is there honor in slaughter
again the question
“Why did you shoot me?”
and the answer is only
“I don't know.”

A uniform can be worn to infect
or it can be traded away
for membership
in a community to protect

Barry G. Wick

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