On Our Way Back From the Protest

By Shawn R. Jones

Featured art: Untitled by Mariama Condé

The officer approaches. Keith keeps both hands
on the steering wheel. Clicks his tongue

against his teeth six times—
a tune of feigned assurance.

The trooper walks back to his car.
Keith takes his hands off the wheel.

I am the first to speak. I ask if he thinks
the cop is going to give us a ticket.

The man who answers, I don’t know,
is not my husband. He is not the man

who killed the wolf spider on the windowsill.
Not the man who grabbed a snake by its tail,

carried its body, wiggling to the ravine. Not the man
who beat down a thief twice his size in our home.

Not Keith who danced at the end of the protest
like it was a Sunday in New Orleans’ Congo Square

Or the man who arranged hydrangeas
tenderly, steadily beside his father’s casket.

No. Tonight, he becomes Freddie,
Breonna, Botham, George.

Eyes the cop through the rearview mirror.
Puts both hands back on the steering wheel.

Drums the leather with his thumbs. 


Shawn R. Jones is the owner and operator of Tailored Tutoring LLC and Kumbaya Academy, Inc. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Womb Rain (Finishing Line Press 2008) and A Hole to Breathe (Finishing Line Press 2015). Her work has also appeared in Essence, River Heron Review, Guesthouse, Typehouse, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Rutgers-Camden and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

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