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  You could have a big dipper   

Pockets (After Ahmaud Arbery) by Donovan Burton

~I am eight years old~

I am sweating through my shirt

in the seemingly endless parking lot

of the Wal-Mart by the liquor store,

fantasizing about what new toys lie inside,

when Mom briskly snatches

my hands out of my pockets.

Before I can turn my head

or even ask her “Why?”

I receive a stone-faced answer:

“I don’t want them

to think you’re stealing.”

I am squinting my eyes,

the way you would if someone

said that the earth was flat

or that the moon wasn’t real,

befuddled at the idea

that I could ever

be seen as a thief.

~I am eighteen years old~

I am trying to keep my eyes open,

working my way through

a never-ending Twitter feed,

when I stop and see Fox News

talking about a guy that looks like me.

He can’t talk back to them -

the interchangeable hosts with fresh smiles,

delicately hand sewn suits,

and “sold to the highest bidder” opinions -

on account of the fresh pockets

sewn onto his chest by vigilante bullets.

I am clenching my fists,

the way you do when

trying to hold back tears

or push down a scream,

befuddled at the idea

that he could ever be seen as a thief.


Donovan Burton (He/Him) is a perpetually tired computer science student from South Carolina. He likes pro wrestling, classic literature, and proving people wrong. Twitter: @ManofPixels

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