Mcdonald shooting.jpg

The Universal Death of Laquan McDonald

a poem

Nicholas Powers Dec 15, 2015

Watching    Youtube talk on parallel realities        a physicist playfully spun

on stage before taking the microphone. Everyone clapped        laid their hands

down as if in prayer            as he unfolded the cosmos like a love note until

emptiness remained.


But the website was slow, he froze                  eyes heavy with equations. Bored,

I looked at     other news           a black teen, killed a year ago, his death on-line

it warned of disturbing images.


“To begin, I’d like to show a brief video …” the physicist’s voice          floated

into the last seconds of this boy’s life      a calm soundtrack           

 camera records         bystander pointing           someone runs        is chased


“Did you know the Chinese use the same word for crisis as      opportunity?

Remember that,” he said. In the video       no sound. There's speed.

Squad cars follow      Laquan, half-jogging       a silhouette into police light

white beams              touch him       like ghostly fingerprints    “It might be

better to refer to the cosmological dark matter problem," he suggests

as officers approach,              "the excess acceleration problem."


“It’s a very real phenomena,” he says     a cop    his gun up            a young man

       will die              strutting across the street        will die       bullets too fast

like thought       to be seen         “if you scan the sky”  he looks at the officer        

“with a very powerful telescope”      as gunfire passes         “you’ll discover

that the image is distorted”         through his body.


He spins and falls, the impact                 “it’s as if you’re looking”

riddled            Laquan reaches out  “through a very big droplet of water”   

shots ricochet off pavement                                                    smoke puffs


the cop kicks the knife out of his hand    “this is a nice picture of the concept”

looks down, briefly                    walks away  


another police car arrives      flashing alarms reflected in blood pool 

he tries, to breathe              "The discovery is," he says softly,

"light is getting bent even when there’s little or no visible matter”




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