for Laquan McDonald
9:57:36-957:54 p.m. (CDT)
Asphalt: á (without) + sphállō (make fall)
watching an Eichmann documentary.
No monsters, only humans
who do monstrous deeds. Buried
in 16mm frames: corpses, carcasses,
cadavers, bodies pushed by bulldozer.
but the camera shows Eichmann’s face.
Eichmann in his glass room,
his glass shell, his glass cell,
the camera’s lens, my own myopia.
The driver in the newsreel covers
his mouth with a bandana.
On State Street, a mini-Cat (half-sized
bulldozer) repairs asphalt buckled by ice and prairie light,
by salt and steady traffic: roads that never last
the winter out, seamed with gravel and bitmac,
smoothed by city workers in neon t-shirts.
I always thought the gagging gloss was asphalt,
but it’s not—not from asphalt,
but from coal oil and graveled limestone.
Near Pulaski, a black boy’s body
pinwheels round—a pirouette; ankles together;
butt and thighs slammed down: hips:
shoulders, head: falling, jack-knifed, dropping
like a nine-pin or those carcasses left
to molder on the shoulder of the interstate.
Late night, I watch the video again, again,
follow the cruiser through gray tones and glare,
study the figure quick-stepping
down the middle of the street,
hoodie, jeans with bleached-out pockets,
long-legged, high-behind, hands reaching
to hike the style and sag of slack pants.
On YouTube, my eye follows the steady pulse
of a time stamp [Oct20 2014 9:57:36]. In the blue
light I watch, press pause and play, pause and play.
He is walking away. He is walking away from.
I study the story’s frames, the labelled segments,
read the comments, each one epitaph, memorial.
(One less thug to support in our jails . . . a rabid
animal put down as he should have been . . . lol
stupid smoke bopping around doing his thug strut.)
Think of James Allen’s postcards. If there were
a website for all the fallen bodies? Posts
of all the dark bodies, dropping, spinning, splayed,
left in heaps, outlined with chalk?
In the video, he spins : falls : drops : terrible fruit
on the asphalt : [9:57:51]. Blood
on the tarmac, blood leaking from the body,
the soaked hoodie: blood under a streetlight
looks black, looks like spilled night, spilled ink.
What word writ with a black boy’s body—maybe
the slang for asphalt: black top, black top,
a black boy’s body spun round, a black body
shot, shot down by 16 bullets,
more than enough, more than enough.
Pause, replay, pause, replay. I watch, rewatch.
His shoulder moves, his arms [9:57:54].
Asphalt, fault, streets paved in dark bodies,
traffic moving steadily onward, another scroll,
another poll. Delays and traffic cones,
a mini-Cat, men in neon trying to repair, fill
the ruptures, ply the bitmac, smooth everything over.