September 3, 2020

Kathleen McClung

THE PUBLIC DEFENDER FIRST APPROACHES THE BOX

My client’s just like you, except he’s not
got gum or ibuprofen in a purse.
His silence is his right. I’ll talk a lot

about the night in question, which was caught
on video. Your call: a blessing or a curse.
My client’s just like you, except he’s not

inclined to ruminate, to dwell on thoughts
of Trump and Pence; he’s clear which one is worse.
His silence is his right. I’ll talk a lot

about police departments, how they’re fraught
with graft, with hotheads prone to pull triggers.
My client’s just like you, except he’s not

received a fair shake from these guys. You ought
to walk inside his shoes, then write some verse.
His silence is his choice. I’ll talk a lot.

Some sentences may leave you cold—some, hot.
My job: to sow a field of doubts through words.
My client’s just like you. Except he’s not.
He’s silent. So are you. But me, I talk a lot.

from A Juror Must Fold in on Herself
2020 Rattle Chapbook Prize Winner

__________

Kathleen McClung: “I have taught a variety of literature and writing classes at Skyline College as an adjunct professor for over twenty years. While this seniority gives me a wee bit of job security, I still struggle with all kinds of uncertainties, which may partly account for why I write mostly formal poetry. There is a tangible comfort in the challenge of crafting a sestina, pantoum, ghazal, or sonnet. I may not have adequate health insurance, but my iambs feel good.” (web)

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