for Jesus Huerta, Chavis Carter, Victor White III
Three young men of color who committed suicide via gunshot to the head
although all three were handcuffed in a police squad car at the time
Step right up! Step right up! Ladies and Gentlemen! Boys and Girls!
Feast your eyes on the brown-tan-black man-boy and the wonder of a life-
Come see the patrol car. Come see the back seat. Come see the folded body the folded boy, the hands folded behind the back. Come see the boy patted down for weapons.
Come feel for weapons. Feel arms that can’t move. Feel the chest: nothing but breath.
Feel the groin: nothing but meat. Feel legs that can’t run, even check the teeth.
Check the cuffs: taunt, tight, metal chewing into the writs.
Check the numbers: .45 caliber, .38 caliber, 22, 21, 17-years-old.
Watch the patrol door open. Watch the boy get jammed in. Watch the hands. Watch the head. Watch the body fold. The handcuffs hold. Watch the chains chew the wrist.
Watch the boy catch the bullet in his teeth. in his jaw. through his eye. in his skull.
You’ll never see the gun blast. You’ll never see the pistol pulled.
You’ll never see the bullet switch or the last phone called made.
Step right up. Step right up. Step out of your house. Step onto the street. Step out of the car, put your hands up, hold your hands out, place them behind your back. You have a right to be shocked into silence. You have a right to tell everyone; they won’t believe a thing.
The hands are empty
The chain is taunt
The chamber’s loaded
The hammer’s cocked
Want to see it again?
Victor White III, 22, died in police custody in Iberia Parish, Louisiana March 3, 2014. Death ruled a suicide.
Chavis Carter, 21, died in police custody in Jonesboro, Arkansas July 28, 2012. Death ruled a suicide.
Jesus Huerta, 17, died in police custody in Durham, North Carolina November 19, 2013. No charge filed.
I. Old School R&B
They say before Jordan Davis
was shot and killed by a white man
who went home claimed self defense and called
for a pizza
his Monday nights
at the discount roller rink
$1 per slice
$1 to skate
one in front and one behind
bounce left bounce right
His mother right there
watching her son glide on through
the world turning beneath his feet
II. Gangsta Rap
They say when Michael Dunn fired nine times
into the car killing Jordan Davis
Dunn saw a gun
But Dunn saw music
the anger in the music
saw it leak into the pavement
make the doors shake
then every widow in the neighborhood started to break
cops came out the woodwork beat everyone
arrested everyone else they could find
used hair-triggers and tech nines
billy clubs and cat-o-nines
and the blood of the community
was washed with a city hose
then Dunn felt a pulsing
deep in his nose
his eyes started to ache
and the Monster of America
climbed out from an earthquake
black bodies in its claws
black bodies in its jaws
and though the beast gave Dunn
only a wink in its wake
that white man drew his gun
and he just shot away
just shot away
III. Classic Rock
They say Merry Clayton lost the baby
after recording the Rolling Stones song
They needed a different sound
a sound like America
but Merry Clayton gave them a sound
that broke it’s own barrier
folded time into space until
the United States became a black hole
a hologram on it’s own horizon
a sound beyond the universe
we can conceive
so we only believe we hear
a crack in Merry Clayton’s voice
a vacuum in the beat
a darkness so tight
for neither mother nor child
Quincy Scott Jones
Issue 16 • Fall 2015