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Friday, June 05, 2015


by Phyllis Wax

Image source: The Sentencing Project

Prison has replaced the plantation                

Pick him up for loitering                              
Handcuff him for a driving offense              
Jail him when he can’t pay his fine              
Harass, kick ass so he knows his place        

Young men rant in solitary
Molder for penny-ante crimes        
Or felonies they didn’t commit
In private prisons
Profitable enterprises
The public chooses not to see
The bullet has replaced the rope      

New York, Saginaw                        
North Charleston, Cleveland
Sanford, Milwaukee

Amidou Diallo, Trayvon Martin
Walter Scott, Dontre Hamilton
Tamir Rice, Milton Hall

Black bodies in their own foyers
Chalked on sidewalks
Slumped in stairwells            
Bodies sprawled in city streets

Cheap lives, death at a discount

Phyllis Wax writes on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, WI.  Her work has appeared in many anthologies and literary journals, both online and print, among them Out of Line, New Verse News, Verse Wisconsin, Ars Medica, Naugatuck River Review, Your Daily Poem. When she’s not writing you might find her escorting at a local abortion clinic.