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Friday, December 08, 2017


by Harold Oberman

Judy Scott holds a photo of her son Walter Scott on Thursday after Michael Slager, a former police officer who shot and killed Mr. Scott in 2015 after a traffic stop, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for violating Mr. Scott’s civil rights. Credit: Credit Randall Hill/Reuters via The New York Times, December 7, 2017

I went to middle school with him,
Walter Scott.  He was a year behind
And, as to his details, I don't remember.
I just don't remember.

I pulled out an old Annual after the shooting.
Wallace Middle School.  New Horizons. 1979.
My parents sent me there against the advice of their peers.
"Violence," they said, "had happened,"
The past year.  Middle school violence
In the Seventies.  A big brawl, perhaps a stabbing
At the most.  So antique.

38 years later, Walter Scott’s shot in the back.
The cop got 20 years.
Violence does not have a half-life
That diminishes over time
Or a blood-red glow that grows dimmer,
Though we wish it did.

He wears a large-collared shirt in the Annual.
I can't tell its colors.
The photos, back then, were all black and white.

Harold Oberman is a lawyer working and writing in Charleston, SC. His first poem was published in middle school and, subsequently, he has had his work published in TheNewVerse.News.