Juror

Now I have someone else’s life flashing before me,

the jewels, the errors, the dregs of someone’s life,

and I am being asked to arbit,

as if there is anything less arbitrary

than sentencing someone to a week

in prison, or a year, a few months

or death by injection.

In the months before dying they will pace

the walls of their own lives, not thinking

about death, thinking about the moment

when they will sit in a chair, and a man

in white will push a cold syringe

up their arm, and they will only think

about the syringe, and how cold it is.

In the pew I will go home to my fish

and let my front door bang,

having passed my idle judgments

off my idle hands.

Will someone else say innocent? I won’t say innocent,

I will go home to two kids. And the

man lifts a heavy eye to my eye,

the pupil, the whites full to the bone,

fuller than mine have ever been

in the years I have fed fishes.

Published spring 2019 by Thirty West Publishing House.