“I Don’t Want the Police to Shoot Me”
“For Black Children at the End
of the World—and the Beginning”
— Roger Reeves
Today, ten-year-old Jadyn feels afraid,
his seat-belt clasped, his back-seat window closed
while uniformed policemen stand arrayed
on Austin’s city roofs in sun and shade,
well before the caravan’s composed.
Today, ten-year-old Jadyn feels afraid.
He wears the COVID mask his mother made
to keep him safe. Here, menace seems exposed.
He’s locked from uniformed police, arrayed,
towering above him. They’re portrayed
as bold—hold power to kill. They’re unopposed.
This day, ten-year-old Jadyn feels afraid—
Mosquitoes buzz. Cops aim as cars parade
for justice—Jadyn’s friends, their families, posed
below the uniformed police arrayed
while George Floyd’s death brings thousands, so dismayed,
down Austin’s streets to prove they are opposed
to men and boys like Jadyn being afraid,
yet fear enough police will not be swayed.
Stand tall and hold the pins like this.
It’s time you know your mother’s story.
You know I graduated high school—
wanted to be a nurse. I could’ve
been like Florence Nightingale,
heroic, saving soldiers’ lives
in World War II. But when your dad
proposed, I had to choose. I promised
he’d be my husband once the war
was through. Who knew five years would pass.
His right ear was deaf from birth.
Still the army took him—proud
to serve—but came home nearly deaf
at twenty-six. I loved him, knew
I could manage motherhood,
but you? You only see yourself.
Dear, I’ve tried to teach you.
But— stand still—you’re proud, believe that you
can change the world. I learned to live
invisible and so must you.
You’ve had too many graduations
and still you want more years in school?
Marriage AND career is not
what girls are born and raised to do.
You were not born to be in charge.
Even on our wedding day
all women promise to obey.
Look at me, at me, for once.
Our lives are lived invisible
to everyone. You want attention?
We can give each other hugs,
then back to work. It’s the only
way this life can work. Obey,
do your duty, pray to be
in Heaven for eternity.
Now stand straight, this final fit
must be exact —this wedding dress—
Unh! Your shoulders are so wide.
© Paulette Demers Turco
Paulette Demers Turco, Powow River Poet, co-organizer of Powow Reading Series, edited The Powow River Poets Anthology II (Able Muse Press, January 2021). Her poetry appears or is pending in The Lyric, Ibbetson Street, The Poetry Porch, Mezzo Cammin, Poems for Plovers (Hawk & Whippoorwill, 2020), 2020 Hippocrates Awards Anthology, Merrimac Mic Anthologies. Her chapbook, In Silence was published by Finishing Line Press in 2018. Awards include: Robert Frost Poetry Award; First Prize, Rockport Ekphrastic Poetry Contest; MFA in Writing President’s Award from Lesley University, Cambridge, MA. She earned her MFA from Lesley University in 2019.