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Friday, October 15, 2021


by Jen Schneider

Judge Donna Scott Davenport during a 2017 deposition. Credit: Obtained by ProPublica and Nashville Public Radio.

Black Children Were Jailed for a Crime That Doesn’t Exist. Almost Nothing Happened to the Adults in Charge: Judge Donna Scott Davenport oversees a juvenile justice system in Rutherford County, Tennessee, with a staggering history of jailing children. She said kids must face consequences, which rarely seem to apply to her or the other adults in charge. —Meribah Knight, Nashville Public Radio, and Ken Armstrong, ProPublica, October 8, 2021

tiny babies on metal swings,
toss rubber balls on concrete
tiny babies clothed in fabric
of NBA stars & NBC scenes
chalk words on concrete
tiny babies entrusted
to institutions of unknown pores
& unsuspecting wills
serve time on concrete
           1. __ 2. __ 3. __
cold benches
cold eyes
filters everywhere
tiny babies on metal cots
fight demons of demonstrative
power & fail to sleep
           1. __ 2. __ 3. __
cold lots (& bots)
cold plots
filters everywhere
dark curtains blanket lives
& squash truths
dark curtains conceal filters
& give breadth to those who
struggle to breathe
journals fail not to reveal
false truths. journalists
fight to reveal hidden truths
           1. __ 2. __ 3. __
cold data
cold calls
filters everywhere
as locks turn right
& shifts (shifty eyes) turn left
truths & threats tangle
in knots (& playground lots) of no name

time ticks. clocks run.colds (& charges) linger.
tiny babies of metal
fences take charge. document false charges.
tally lives on indefinite pause
& subject to indeterminate pain
judicial oaths & pledges
of allegiance
stream syllables of familiar
1. Liberty 2. Justice 3. All
& strings of familiar
1. Truth 2. Transparency 3. All
& cracks of familiar
1. Peace 2. Fairness 3. All

frayed fibers, tangled twine
false/falsified/fabricated (truths, charges, crimes)  
true fear (& dark curtains) everywhere

Jen Schneider is an educator who lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Pennsylvania. She is a Best of the Net nominee, with stories, poems, and essays published in a wide variety of literary and scholarly journals. She is the author of Invisible Ink (Toho Pub), On Daily Puzzles: (Un)locking Invisibility (forthcoming, Moonstone Press), and Blindfolds, Bruises, and Breakups (forthcoming Atmosphere Press).