BLACK NUMEROLOGY (a poem for Walter Scott)

August 14, 2019

Walter Scott,
I’ve watched
your death
hundreds of times.
Recently,
I counted
the steps
it took
before the eighth shot
grounded you:
13.

you took
13 paces,
running for
your life,
inline and
online,
the warrior stride
of a 50-year-old
body
that died
too soon.

I wonder
how many
impressions
your feet made
before that
moment.

You probably
walked
hundreds of miles
alive
prior to
poets putting
numbers
on your death march,
countless footsteps
covering the earth
as a son,
a forklift operator,
massage therapist,
father of four.

I wonder
how many
more miles
you would have
walked,
holding your
grandchildren –
would they
have been aware
of the
deep layers
of dark blues
you carried
as a black man
living in the South?

my mouth
is tired of
sounding out the syllables
it takes to talk
about America’s
favorite pasttime –
counting bullets
and burying brown bodies.