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Wednesday, July 03, 2024


by Martha Deed

“The court will set a new schedule if and when the mandate is returned.”

Usually the worse it is
the longer I take
to say anything about it

but today
is not one of those days
Today is not a shock

Today rests upon absence of surprise
after decades of seeking fruit from the tree of justice
and finding only sick worms and fungi
feeding upon the softened spoiled
core of a tree failing to thrive

in a rotting swamp
that exploded long ago
as anyone knows
who was wronged in a lower court
say—family court
where a child’s future
was dangled over
the bubbling glop

so that even when
a rotten judge was later removed
it was too late for the child
and for at least one parent

or from a class
(yes, “class” in the United States)
whose voice is smothered in the court
while the other is entitled
(yes, “entitled” in the United States)
to call the shots in wars designed
to defeat the weaker class
through unequal monetary weaponry
and finding oneself trapped at the bottom of a bog
while the wealthier ones walk away

Justice like rich organic matter
sinks to the bottom
then deprived of oxygen
rises to the top
forms a hard crust
that leaves justice
trapped below
for the bottom feeders

Anoxic gases bubble to the surface
and singe the air
A thick crust of contaminate
preserves deep destruction
as marsh gas in the court grows and stinks

So it is that spoiled judges
rise through the judicial system
and prevail

We who have seen the lower courts
stood close enough to smell the smell
we knew this would happen
that it would lead to a decision that

rots to form a crust that prevents
oxygen from reaching
the organic material trapped below*

i.e. unthinkable
not merely spoiled


Martha Deed’s third poetry collection Haunted By Martha was released by FootHills Publishing, July 2023. She has published ten books (poetry, mixed media, non-fiction) and ten chapbooks along with inclusion in more than 20 poetry anthologies. Individual poems have appeared in The New Verse News, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Earth’s Daughters, First Literary Review—East, Shampoo, Gypsy, and many others.