“Official Statement,” by Steven D. Schroeder

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Poetry by Steven D. Schroeder from our Spring 2017 issue.


Video of the incident, edited,
almost obeyed our order, almost
made our story fit. A citizen—
no, criminal—was pacified
by multiple blunt instruments
of the state. Of course by mistake
in our hasty press release, justice
became just trust us. The system
remained utmost. The sole witness
investigators interrogated—
no, interviewed—didn’t see
what she saw or say what she said
she said. Any direct eye contact
caused us to lose the count
of who got lost. To stand up
was obstruction. To back away,
a credible threat. The subject—
no, suspect—didn’t look right
while jaywalking, then ran
for what he must have believed
was safety, so we saved him
from himself. When we searched
his person afterward, each pocket
hid a brickload. In his hands, toy
resembled gun or maybe the other
way around. In our hands, his life
amounted to vacant housing
taped off, his blood on blacktop
too dark to identify. In our minds,
the boy was not boy but man
and that man grew into monster
and that monster outnumbered us
less than a second before
we remembered our gun was more
than one too. The city was like that
when we found it—no, founded it
no, foundered it. Once we met
the boy, he was already dead
though his body didn’t know yet.


Image: Smith, David. “Private Law and Order Leagues (study for medallion, Medals for Dishonor series).” Ca. 1938-39. Felt-tipped pen and ink (from verso), and pen and ink on paper. The Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.

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