“Soprano from the Junior Choir at the Protest” by Shawn R. Jones

Shawn R. Jones


Her larynx is raw from chanting. 
Every diphthong and syllable aflame. 
Each vowel broken. She cannot sing, 
We Shall Overcome. That was 
her grandmother’s song. And she 
is not her grandmother. 
So forgive her for wanting 
the police precinct destroyed. 
Forgive her for cheering 
as patrol cars scream between 
flames. Forgive her for looting 
the Smoke Shop in the alley 
on James Street. Forgive her 
for listening to Floyd cry, 
“Momma” four hundred times 
on her cell phone as she fills 
a bong with kerosene. 
Forgive her as she sticks a rag 
in its petite mouth and turns 
the soft pink cloth into wick. 
Forgive her. Forgive her 
as she leans back, 
steps forward, shifts 
her full body weight, 
twists her torso, 
drives her elbow forward, 
and releases the bong— 
a torched bird 
with variegated wings.

from Rattle #76, Summer 2022


Shawn Jones: “My poetry tells a story of survival as an ongoing journey—rather than destination.” (web)

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