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Monday, August 31, 2020


by Ryan Schaufler

AP Photo, 1956

Jacob Blake is not dead, yet.
The 7 bullets tried to kill him.

He’s just paralyzed from the waist down
Chained to a hospital bed.

Guns don’t kill people
People kill people.

Police are people.
Police tried to do what they do:

Kill a black man by shooting him in the back,
Where they normally kneel on a neck.

They feared for their lives.
They feared for their lives.

August 29th. 2020.
The Black Panther is dead.

The year has knocked the wind out of us.
My wife & I decided to take a walk.

We drove to Port Washington.
We had lived there happily for 9 years.

That was before T***p.
Before a 17 year old thug from Antioch

Drove to our state with an AR-15
The good ole Smith and Wesson

30-round magazine loaded & ready
Protecting businesses, right?

Protecting the right to kill two & maim one.
Just like a video game. Hands up & walk away.

“Need a bottle of water?” I know you’re thirsty!
For blood. “We appreciate you!” White supremacy.

Recorded for posterity:
The voice of police.

Armored vehicles pass by
The privilege of a white boy with a big long gun

As the crowd pleads: He shot them! He killed them!

They feared for their lives.
They feared for their lives.

We lived here before all of this.
Before the plague.

Port Washington isn’t the same now.
The country is not the same now.

None of us are now. We walked by the lake.
75 degrees. Blue sky. The moon, peeking.

A playground. Deer in the distance, peeking.
The lake breeze reveals the stillness of rage.

White People frolicking under the sun.
Away from Milwaukee or Kenosha.

A Truck pulls up behind us.
Us. A white man. With his Black wife.

Truck. filled with boys. that look like
Kyle Rittenhouse. Glassy eyed. Smiling

Crooked. They slow down
Their heads out the window.

Their faces mirror the gleeful hate
60 years ago

As white pro-segregationists
Battered the bones of Freedom Riders.

Demonic smirks directed our way
A familiar evil. Just as familiar as the beautiful park

We walked. Our eyes connect.
“Boo!” A boy shouts. His face

Cold, hardened with ignorance
Smoldering with hatred. He blows a kiss

Flipping us off. I respond, instinctually, “Boo.”
Blowing a kiss back. I do not flip him off.

My wife quickly whispers to me,
“Stop. Don’t engage.”

She instructs me to cut across the park.
Away from the truck. They fit the profile.

Internet militia gang. Radicalized. White.
Militant. Seeking blood. An uncivilized war.

“You got to listen to me. They don’t see you.
They see me. You can’t respond like you want.”

She’s right. I can’t see clearly. Their rage
Enrages me. My white privilege doesn’t work here.

White people continue to picnic and laugh
Unaware of the terror. We keep our eye on the truck

As it slowly cruises the park. Are they armed?
Will they stop? Will they canvas the area with AR-15’s?

We did not call the police.
We could not call the police.

Will they shoot us for existing? They have been incited.
Trump has released the underbelly of America.

We feared for our lives.
We feared for our lives.

Ryan Schaufler lives in Milwaukee and received a BFA from California Institute of the Arts in Acting. He is a professional actor, special education teacher, theatre teacher, playwright, director, photographer, artist, and a father. His plays and poetry have been published in such journals as Southern Indiana Review, Rise Up Review, and Clockhouse. His photography can be seen in Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, Elizabeth Horan’s 2019 Chapbook Fem Box, Moonchild Magazine, Pithead Chapel, Riggwelter, The Perch, and Cream City Review among others. @schauflerized