This is a version of Noose York intended for readers looking to share their own poems in our comment section. Click here to listen to an audio version of the poem.
Waiting for a Crown Victoria
on the corner of Central & Putnam
in the Bushwick section of Old Medina
Waiting here on the corner
for a Crown Victoria which finally shows up
after running past a traffic light
without the thought of a fast child
crossing the street
chasing her mother’s milk
grocery list in hand.
Pulling up to a hard stop
The car doors unlock in a dominos spill.
The driver jumps out
points his finger and barks,
“What are you doing here,
got any drugs on you buddy?”
This is not the cab
I was waiting for,
not the Spanglish taxi man
who always tells me on my way to JFK
I could get more bang
for my dollar Americano
if I spend my money in DR.
who jumps out of the passenger side
with a walkie-talkie chirping
is shaped like a radio DJ
Too many crack-of-dawn diners in his blood
He grips his pistol and also barks,
“Hey big guy, where were you coming from?”
The kids up the block
take their eyes off the moon
and I am center stage
under that same moon, luminous
against the storefront dry cleaner,
shoved toward the cold glass
by the hype man behind the badge
face pressed tough against the cold glass,
needle-and-thread neon sign rat-a-tat-tatting.
I stare at the Selena-shaped tailor sewing inside.
Wanting to speak, even if I stutter,
I still have to utter the words
to these officers
for those kids who were staring at the moon,
for their older brothers,
their uncles dragging their backaches
back from a prideful hard day’s labor.
Wanting to speak for them with valor
capture for these blue bloods
the beautiful confidence
snatched every day on this corner
I pull out the heart to say,
“Yes sir, no…”
An empty can crooning,
“No sir, yes…”
The rhythmless words cut off by the rattlesnakes
these nerves cut short by the quotas
because history on this corner has proven
that collars have to be made
by the end of the month
and these backward numbers have nothing
in common with real suspects
Like outta-town gun laws and Walmart shoppers.
I go over the speech in my head
“What are you going to arrest me for, officers?”
Shit, that’s easy.
“Do I look suspicious by the trends I wear
for standing on the corner waiting for a cab?
On the corner of a street you don’t own…”
Damn, too liberal.
“Sir, why do these men
only get stopped for being black,
for owning their brown skin?”
That is it! That’s the stinger.