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Friday, April 30, 2021


by Julie L. Moore

Unmoored from its original empirical underpinnings, particularly with respect to African Americans...  ‘Blackness’ has become the symbolic assailant. 

—Jeannine Bell, Indiana University Maurer School of Law


Each Saturday at noon they practice the drill—

shrill shine in spring air like a child’s high-

pitch whine in a public sphere 

where everyone can hear—

so when the real storm

arrives, we’ll fly down 

basement steps or insulate

ourselves in inner rooms,

to save ourselves—

but what horn warned 

John Crawford III

                             that fiddling with a bb gun 

in the middle of a Walmart aisle 

while chatting on his cell

               would be his sirens’ song 

full of sound and fury signifying

assailant, that 9-1-1 wouldn’t 

bring aid but grave 

in a half-second flat? 

What bell rang 

for Breonna Taylor, 

who climbed into bed, reaching 

for her beloved, for a good night’s 

rest, not knowing it’d be eternal

& irredeemable?  

                                                          O, something wicked that way 

came, & keeps on coming: 

It knows no caution & hides 

in plain sight. Sly & slick,

it slithers through amber

waves of grain, through the rocks

of ages. Did you see it 

funneling all its strength 

as it chased 

Ahmaud Arbery 

on the road, 

nipping at his heels, 

mowing him down?

And after, 

did you see 

its twisted tail 

slide across his fallen 

flesh & hear

its overdue alarm 

roar like Chimera

used to snort, 

sense its 


tipped tongue


as it left?

Author's Note: The epigraph comes from Jeannine Bell’s article, “Dead Canaries in the Coal Mines: The Symbolic Assailant Revisited,” Georgia State University Law Review, vol. 34, no. 3, Spring 2018.

A Best of the Net and six-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Julie L. Moore is the author of four poetry collections, including, most recently, Full Worm Moon which won a 2018 Woodrow Hall Top Shelf Award and received honorable mention for the Conference on Christianity and Literature's 2018 Book of the Year Award. Her poetry has appeared in African American Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Image, New Ohio Review, Poetry Daily, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, and Verse Daily. She is the Writing Center Director at Taylor University, where she is also the poetry editor for Relief Journal.