poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, October 30, 2018.
About this Poem 

”It took a year before I could summon any language at all in response to the ‘stand-your-ground’ shooting and death of my close friend's father, a highly revered lawyer, over a contested accessible parking spot, but a similar incident in Florida this past July compelled me to finish and share this elegiac testimony.”
—Cyrus Cassells

The World That the Shooter Left Us

                                                       (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.

Copyright © 2018 by Cyrus Cassells. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 30, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Cyrus Cassells

Cyrus Cassells

Winner of a Lambda Literary Award in Poetry for Beautiful Signor, Cyrus Cassells was born in 1957 in Dover, Delaware.

by this poet

poem

How do I convey the shoring gold
at the core of the Florentine bells’
commingled chimes?

Vast as a suddenly revealed
field of wheat,
that up-and-away gold
is equivalent to the match-burst
morning I returned,
intent as doubting Thomas,
to my old classroom terrace,