Sunday, May 2, 2010

That Boy

Thirteen years old
and couldn't read for squat,
but his momma had a TV
and he watched it
a lot,
the cop shows,
the action shows,
the jacks in the box,
who shoot to kill
but when they take slugs
jump up whole
in the next episode.

Bang bang.

And all those commercials,
he watched them, too,
They spoke right to him,
flaunting their wares.
over and over and over,
they said, "Sucker,
go for it."

So that boy got a gun,
had no bullets,
had no firing pin,
but he went to rob
a high top shop,
and the real cops came
and one yelled, "Stop!"

When that boy
heard that word,
in a flash
he pointed his pistol,
his unloaded pistol,
at that big cop,
who shot him dead
on the spot.

Now I'm not asking
where that boy got a pistol.

And I'm not asking
whether he was on crack.
I know he was dealing.

And I'm not asking
what that cop was thinking
when he reacted.

And I'm not asking,
I'm not asking,
how that boy's momma
took the news.

And I'm not asking
why that boy
wasn't in the library,
reading up
on how to be an engineeer.

I'm not asking
any of that.

But here's the question
I can't stop asking:
What was that kid thinking
when he aimed an empty pistol
at a cop?

Did he think
that gun was magic
like on TV?

Did he think he was magic
like McGyver
and Mr. T?

Did he think
this is what a man does?

Did he think,
"Fuck you, mother-fucker.
You, daddy, you"?

Did he want
to die?

And if he did,
what was he thinking?

The answer
to this question
is unknowable,
because no one
can ever ask
that boy what, what
was in his mind
in the instant
before he got wasted.

This question is his ghost.
This question haunts me.

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