How Much Tremor There Will Be

Paul Otremba

How quickly links move me through our country, first

thin reports, then the crowds redacted by smoke —

how slow the time for the boy left in the street.

I want to say it sears the mind, the burnt-out

canisters shown lying around their feet, shot

into people’s lawns. (Go home. I am home. You

go the fuck home.) To do that, to stare into

submission while looking through the narrowing

scope — but not visible. How else to explain

that the eye rests there, holds fast the line cutting

against their refusal? Bring it, you fucking

animals caught on the hot mic. We see you.

We see you, the cameras would say and still

they advance; one shouts a barrel in a face,

eye against eye and the fragile feel of it.

No eyes meeting real eyes, though, just the gauzy

film like cool milk poured into burning orbits,

like something smeared out of an infected root,

while the bewildered mouth’s pressed into a plea —

“I can’t breathe” — under the civic body’s brute

enforcement. Justice? Look beneath your boot’s tread,

but see, there’s nothing to take back, nothing left

to exchange. That’s the lesson’s broken-glass edge,

that out from this lens appears simply a shape,

a description and you invoking it, where

he resists, charges, grabs at his waistband, and

you rest your cheek as in lining up the sights

or in going to sleep. He will never wake.

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