Jury Rigging


The young black men assembled
some sort of hammer out of pens,
peanut butter and their summonses.
It did not please the court,
which used it to dismiss them
from the impromptu us. We, the jury,
slept on park benches, the judge’s
benchmark, a reloading bench
cluttered with wadcutters. Our case,
under a false bottom, hid
a photocopied guide on how to hide
a body. Attorneys made their cases
questions only: Could you acquit
the victim? Would you vote to convict
the city’s cutest kitten’s fuzzy belly
if it clawed your magazines
and seized the evidence to fabricate
extended Uzi clips? Should you die
before the verdict, who will plead
I cannot answer on the grounds
that I cannot tell my answer
from a hole in the ground
 ?
One grandmother scrapbooked
newspaper clippings into her recipe
for 9mm casings from paperclips.
On what stood for a stand, a witness
defined the verbs case and clip
and put shiv and shovel together
without reaching snitch or clipping
his fingernails. The court fined time
for loitering. After it found
insufficient funds for a bounty
board invention to help hunt
its ten most wanted and dispense
with justice, it tried to find us
guilty guilty guilty. By then we had
built the doomsday device.


______________________________________

Steven D. Schroeder’s second book, The Royal Nonesuch (Spark Wheel Press, 2013), won the 2014 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award from Southern Illinois University. His poetry is recently available from Crab Orchard Review, Vinyl, and iO: A Journal of New American Poetry. He serves as co-curator for Observable Readings in St. Louis and works as a Certified Professional Résumé Writer.