Pantoum for Baltimore

By C. Kubasta

On the streets of the two cities is found
a pattern or practice of conduct that violates
the Constitution or federal law; the report notes
four areas of concern. Microphones lean in for the awkward

pattern or practice of conduct that violates
our common sense of decency. The findings:
four areas of concern. Microphones lean in for the awkward
recital: unconstitutional stops, searches, and arrests;

(our common sense of decency not in the findings)
enforcement strategies that produce severe & unjustified disparities
in the litany of stops, searches, and arrests of African Americans;
excessive force; retaliation against constitutionally-protected expression.

These enforcement strategies produce severe & unjustified disparities
fraying community relationships, leading to
excessive force, and retaliation against constitutionally-protected expression.
“Zero Tolerance” is not proactive policing.

Frayed community relationships lead to
eroded trust in the police. In stark relief, this policy of
“Zero Tolerance” substituted for proactive policing
divides the streets into two cities.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This poem utilized mostly found text: language is lifted & adapted slightly from the DOJ’s report on the Baltimore Police Dept.

Headshot of C. Kubasta

C. Kubasta is the author of two chapbooks, A Lovely Box and &s (both from Finishing Line), and a full-length collection, All Beautiful & Useless (BlazeVOX). Her next book, Of Covenants, is forthcoming from Whitepoint Press in 2017. Her poetry, fragments, and prose experiment with hybrid forms, pronoun slippage and intentional awkwardness.

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