Bell Canto
For Sean Bell and Family

by Derrick Weston Brown, Wisdom Teeth

Your mind wants to believe
it was a misunderstanding.

The officers were scared rookies.
It was dark.

But truth suffers no allowances.

Spread out before you are snatches of
eye-witness accounts in print.  The grainy footage
of gun butts tempering jaws; the swollen voice of
the fiancee.

This is a different type of jilting; no story
of a runaway bride found with thawing feet,
and no sign of her imagined Latino abductor.

No.  You don’t want to believe this.
Your mind is tired of “Again”

This happens.
Same city.
Same son.
Same make and model.
Same implied threat empty hands carry.
Same text book response.
Same salvo.
Same torrential rain of shell casings
musing a Bell.

Clip emptied.

Reload

Your mind is a busted reel
of images; that officer from grade school
who never wore his gun around the students.

Reload

The stories you ghosted
from the barber’s chair;
regulation choke holds
boot heels on testicles
a nightstick renovating a ribcage

Reload

The white boy in 10th grade
who caught a cafeteria tray to the head
for Rodney King in ‘92

The forearm planted in
your chest from the
officer who didn’t
care to hear your explanation
for arriving late to a sold out
ball game even though you
bought tickets in advance.

His words
“No admittance”
mean more now than then.

You use this as your caption
to narrate the picture
of the the uniformed triggerman in the photo
silent unblinking
hands hidden
behind their backs
at ease
acquitted.

Your mind wants for a
parable, a moral
and there isn’t one.

PHOTO 2024 02 01 07 10 14

For Langston Hughes on His 123 Birthday

Speech given on February 1, 2024 in Havana, Cuba In 1927 Langston Hughes walked into a Cuba amid an emerging community of artists, intellectuals, and radicals.  He saw a “sunrise in a new land [– a day – in his words]sic – full of brownskin surprises, and hitherto unknown contacts in a world of color.”  … Continued

PALESTINE WEEK 1920 x 1080 px 2

Palestine Week 2024

January 18, 2024 – January 25, 2024 In keeping with our ongoing mission of uplifting racial and cultural connections, Busboys and Poets is hosting Palestine Week (January 18 through January 25, 2024). This week-long series of events will offer a diverse range of programming featuring Palestinian food, music, dance, poetry, discussions, and other enriching events. … Continued

patrick pride

Busboys and Poets Book Review: Anger is a Gift

Mark Oshiro’s contemporary YA fiction is an incredibly moving story about community, about love, and about taking a stand against prejudice and violence, even when it seems completely hopeless, and it is especially difficult to read. Especially for someone like me, caught up in my own privilege and ignorant of the struggles faced by people … Continued

Screen Shot 2021 03 15 at 6.02.09 PM

Everest Base Camp #12

“Hey Dude” I finish my communing with the majesty of this wild, magnificent slice of earth and head to the other side of this narrow metal wonder of a bridge. My legs are still noodles but a bit more steady. My face is flush. My body is intact. My mind is calm. And I am … Continued