"Black" ain't a criminals mask!


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    You have heard this poem before.
    You have heard the unoriginal repetitious poetics
    of a shot of a shot of a shot singeing the night air - of
    shell casings on concrete and cases of claims of standard police procedure -
    of cases of batons and bullets that leave red and white and blue
    on black and bullets in brown bodies
    and bullets in sleeping bodies and bullets in running bodies
    and bullets in bodies holding umbrellas or
    holding pens or holding other things that look like guns or reaching for -
    he was reaching for -
    they say she was reaching for some expectation of dignity, service, and protection This is an unoriginal poem about police brutality.
    You will hear the same sets of metaphors once more - white security -
    verdicts of innocence - inconsequential bodies of evidence - ballistics and emergency lights, repetitious, circling around and around
    like circular stories like unoriginal poems like a red stream of consciousness flowing through senses punctured
    like sentences punctuated with bullet-like precision again and again - There is really nothing new here.
    This is as unoriginal as a mundane untouched sheet
    of white paper or granddad's white *** sheets
    untouched in closets beside uniforms or uniform otherwise spotless records -
    You have heard these uniform stories before, I imagine.
    So why write? Why bother? Why do pens and tongues and lungs feel so heavy
    when stories seem to repeat themselves? Entertainment markets demand innovation. The same story again and again gets old, I am told.
    We'd rather plug our ears, and so there is silence in waiting for newness to appear. Silence: like the eerie stillness of prisons and profits,
    of plantations and poverty churned out in steady cycles
    of factory-like production - '
    Call it run-of-the-mill:
    not poetic, but prosaic like the still persistence of the largest private prison corporation traded on the
    New York Stock Exchange -
    like the silence of stock ticker tapes circulating at the bottom of TV screens -
    an economics of morbidity -
    a market that demands an endless supply of unremarkable names -
    like Sammy Yatim
    like Fredy Villanueva
    like Amadou Diallou
    like Kathryn Johnson
    like Neil Stonechild
    like - Are you tired yet?
    Then put down your scorecards.
    Set your aesthetics aside.
    There will be no originality tonight, because the same old stories
    out there mean the same old stories up here,
    so this will stop being clichรฉ when that stops being clichรฉ -
    when clichรฉs are no longer scripted in blood stuttering like -
    stuttering like -
    stuttering like last breaths along sidewalks
    Until then, chalk this up as one more outline,
    another empty shell of a thing - Just one more unoriginal poem.

    By Dexter Adams & James Hudson


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