SURVEILLANCE: The Public Confuses Death with Pornography

You sit in the violence   Teeter
into the video from your safety
You are – each time – unsure
of what you’re viewing: Videos
of Black bodies crumbling so primitively
it is convincing
You have long trusted
your vision   Can recall the arch of Bathsheba’s
dark miracles
from your palace roof   You are entertained
Watching this makes you faithful
to God and all of his craft
You are cautioned not to interpret
what you see   Told that the videos lack circumstance
You wonder what is off
screen   What justifies these chronicled deaths
You are lucid and hidden   You can see
the bodies fold and fold like dusky silk
but do not protest
It is captivating   You watch again
aroused and trusting the beauty of the scene
What is called when you long for
images   when you want more?


For 10 weeks, we will feature one poem per week from Surveillance, the new chapbook forthcoming from Writ Large Press. These poems by Ashaki M. Jackson explore police killings of Blacks captured on video and the public’s consumption of these videos. Previous poems: 12, 3

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