December 13, 2016

Denise Miller

WHAT I LEARNED AT THE ACADEMY: ANOTHER OFFICER’S CONFESSION

for Eric Garner

(He was illegally selling cigarettes.)

It was never supposed to be
a chokehold. Just a wrestling
move I learned at the Academy
so I locked one arm under his
slipped the other around his torso—

how else to let him know there is
no sense in resisting? His worded defense—
my hands getting tense—just let me tip
the perp, make him lose his balance.

Just let me ground him.

More choke than hold, my arm—
the sound of begging, his breath—
his head to concrete, my hand—

my right arm around his thick of neck.

from Ligatures
2016 Rattle Chapbook Prize Selection

[download audio]

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Denise Miller is a professor, poet, and mixed media artist living in Kalamazoo, Michigan.(link)