ROLL CALL FOR MICHAEL BROWN
It will happen,
an honest mistake
in a hot August classroom.
Someone will blink
at the name and swear this
“Michael Brown” can’t be
that “Michael Brown.” Or someone
will be too busy with her head down
finishing syllabi to look up and see the flash
grenades and tear
gas. Someone will be running
late, his mind on the cops
that will probably ticket him
for not having a permit.
Someone won’t see why a name
is such a big deal. Someone will
read his name like the next item on a list
of groceries and move to the next student
before the first groan rumbles
through the stale Missouri air.
Someone will start to speak
his name and then cover his mouth
like a Roman priest closing Janus’s door
and praying all the violence of the world will stop
short of his porch. Someone will ask,
“Michael Brown? Is Michael Brown here?”
and we will all have to answer.
August 17, 2014
Jason McCall: “This poem was inspired by the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teen killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri. His death is one of the many recent cases of unarmed black males dying at the hands of police officers. He was scheduled to begin the college this semester.”