Rare as a television in Walmart.
No, rare as a black woman in an American prison.
Rare as ice cream haloing a child’s mouth.
No, rare as needing money to buy your child
glitter ponies, storybooks, Tonka Trucks
two weeks before the end of December.
Rare as a prosecutor asking us to imagine
hypothetical white children in the kitchen
who may or may not have stolen ice cream.
Rare as the black woman in the defendant’s chair, her eyes wide.
Rare as fear being described as anything other than wide-eyed.
Rare as hypothetical white children’s wide-eyed faces smudged
with strawberries, sugar, & cream. How would you figure out
who was responsible? Which child would you blame?
Rare as the defendant with a cart full of hi-def dreams,
a cart full of her real children’s joy. Rare as one hundred seven potential jurors
sitting in a courtroom, just three women of color & one man of color.
Rare as a jury of her peers, a room filled mostly with business owners in khakis
& retired secretaries, their nails long & red.
Rare as the next American analogy – we are a football team now.
The prosecutor wants to know, Does every player, even the one who doesn’t play,
get a Super Bowl ring? Rare as juror number five who is certain
every player is essential. He will be chosen. Subtext: every black woman pushing a cart
with other black women is responsible when two TVs go missing. Who is responsible?
Juror number thirty-three, the Education professor answers, Morally or legally?
She will not be chosen. Rare as math.
$1800 dollars of stolen merchandise minus six months in jail awaiting trial
minus 107 jurors at 40 dollars a day, multiplied by one judge who knows everything
& two lawyers who rely on empty analogies
divided by one future & a lifetime of bigger & bigger losses.
Rare as a conversation where we ask each other what we value.
Rare as dry-heaving in the bathroom of the courthouse, the oversimplified analogies
collecting inside me like bad meat.
Rare as being chosen.
Rare as the courage to standup on a wooden chair & yell, Fuck Wal-Mart, Fuck your analogies.
Rare as the relief I feel when I’m not chosen.
Rare as the unselected Education professor who stays seated & whispers,
A black woman arrested in Camillus receiving a fair trial? Yeah right.
Rare as the certain responses of the business owners & retired secretaries –
each of their hypothetical white children is guilty of stealing the ice cream.
Rare as favorite hobby #1: golf.
Rare as favorite hobby #2: traveling the world.
Rare as being instructed on all the positions on a football team
because golf is too solitary for their analogies.
Rare as the equipment manager being praised as much as the quarterback,
even though, according to juror number three, Everyone matters
to the win equally. Rare as winning in this industrial-abandoned county.
Rare as school zones & red-lines. Rare as white children in their hypothetical kitchens,
the same ones who have eaten all the ice cream,
ever getting to know the children who are hungry.
Rare as a Walmart-greeter, someone’s grandmother,
standing on sore feet, smiling to you Welcome, Welcome, you are here,
to the land of empty carts & big screens.
—Devon J. Moore