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Tuesday, August 11, 2015


by Gil Hoy

Poem-Painting by Frank O'Hara & Norman Bluhm. Image source: Lingo 7

I am not a poet; I am a lawyer. Why?
Sometimes, I think I would rather be a poet,
but I am not. Well, for instance

Frank O'Hara is starting to write a poem.
I drop in. "Sit down and have a drink,"
he says. I drink; we drink. I look up. "You have the words
‘Black Lives Matter’ in your poem." "Yes," he says.
I go, and the days go by, and I drop in again. The writing of the poem
is going on, and I go, and the days go by. I drop in.
The poem is finished. "Where are the words
‘Black Lives Matter’ in your poem?" All that's left is a painting
of dead black boys and dead black men to illustrate the poem.
"It was too much," Mr. O'Hara says. "And I've decided
I'm both a poet and a painter."

But me?  One day, I am thinking about racism, justice
and the law, about praying for God to bring Michael Brown Jr.
back from the dead. I rehearse my argument, all about
why Mr. Brown should be saved.  Pretty soon, it’s a whole litany
of arguments.  And there should be so much more. Not only about
Michael Brown’s life, but also the lives of Trayvon Martin, Christian Taylor,
Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Jordan Davis, Africa, Dontre Hamilton, Ezell Ford,
John Crawford III, Dante Parker, Eric Harris, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray,
all the black boys and all the black men whose lives have been needlessly taken.
Days go by. I am prepared for God’s court. My legal argument is finished,
but I haven't mentioned racism yet. It's twelve arguments and the court reporter
faithfully transcribes  what I say to the judge.

When I see the transcription, it's titled "Racism."  And one day, I see Mr. O'Hara's
poem and painting, collectively titled: “Black Lives Matter.”

Gil Hoy is a Boston trial lawyer and writer. He studied poetry at Boston University, while receiving a BA in Philosophy and Political Science. Gil received an MA in Government from Georgetown University and a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law. He served as a Brookline, Massachusetts Selectman for four terms. His writing has appeared most recently in The Montucky Review, The Potomac, The New Verse News, The Boston Globe and The Dallas Morning News.