i see them, passing boys with foggy eyes
kicked into the nevermind and squared off against its charge
against unknowable breeze his skin sings by degrees
sings a circle, then a square, the shape of things
like the description of this scene the rain reveals
comes shrieking through the clouds. it comes like murder.
enraged, i’ve come to know the viscous touch of murder.
on all sides there is blood enough to drown my eyes
to soak the concrete forming apparitions yet revealed,
naming the lives with which i’m charged.
wish him be gone a little longer, and his death a far more distant thing.
even the president has the luxury of “if” and says he suffers to his own degree.
i pray my sons never cast there fates into the hands of law degrees,
and in the mourning of their likeness feel my own hands twitching as for murder
imagining an all-white jury numb to us as things
looking the family in their eyes
and clearing a condemned man of all charges
telling me my hatred always conceals more than it reveals.
as if my disbelief in justice was revealing,
having been brown awhile, i don’t need a graduate degree
to understand four decades of a plot that ends in murder.
all around me i have watched the public particles charged,
an isotope, a wild card that defies my eyes,
and being the honorary witness is no glorious thing
one day i will say, “mi’jo, you reach for the sky, but it’s falling is the thing.”
and in that same conversation he will reveal
how much it’s always bothered him the way the family covets his light eyes,
how he hates it when he tells people he’s latino, and he gets the third degree.
one day he will wave a history book at me and say, “it’s filled with murder!”
i will be old and wise by then and tell him, “well, now change is in your charge.”
funerals must happen, and somebody always gets charged.
some family comes just to collect the young man’s things.
the fire rose, and the father’s boy fell, but there’s no end to murder.
it’s in the unrelenting terror over time that’s constantly revealed
the way the painful rides up on you in degrees
the way i see him when i close my eyes
“a thorough examination of the facts in this case has revealed
that the defendant is guilty as charged of the crime of murder in the second degree.”
it will be all that i can do, turn silently to hold the boy with papi’s eyes.