‘Kids Who Die’

Not many writers compose laments or lamentations in 2015. Perhaps we need some. There is no specific metrical form for a lament, no rhyme scheme; there are no rules. How would one know when one has written one? A lament is meant to be sung or declaimed, and even though we listen to many singers and even though we hear too many speech-makers, the poetry that most of us encounter is read silently, nodded at, and then forgotten after the encounter. Too often, Americans seem to think of poetry as bloodless, intellectual.

A lament is an expression of grief captured in the moment or as close to the moment as it can be caught. Those who were left behind, those who do not want to imagine one more moment continuing to live on as someone left behind, they sing laments. As non-subtle as our culture can often be, “get over it” is just as often a guiding outlook. For most of us, life rarely if ever brings us to experiences so sad we proclaim we will never cease mourning, and when we do, we try to cheer each other up. Lamentations present meaning in mourning. We don’t often linger there long enough for meaning to germinate.
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#SandraBland: #SayHerName

One of my friends is driving cross-country with her son right now as I type this. He turned 18 last week and this trip from New York to Yellowstone Park is a last family hurrah before he ships off to college and the rest of his life in a month or so.

I know deep down that they will arrive out west, have a grand time, and enjoy the long drive home, that the experience will be spoken of fondly for years to come between mother and son. If she happens to be pulled over by a law enforcement official in any part of the country for any reason at all, that experience, too, will be merely one more tale in the fun collection of anecdotes: “Man, don’t even THINK about speeding in” (insert state name). And we her friends will enjoy the story.

My friend and her son are white, as am I. If she gets pulled over by a law enforcement official in any part of the country for any reason at all, the anecdote will not lead me to wonder these questions:

Why was she asked to get out of the car? Why was she arrested? Did the arresting officer have a body camera on his uniform? Was it functioning? Was the dash camera on the arresting officer’s vehicle turned on? If not, why not? Why is my friend, or her son, dead today?
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