19 April 2023
Before citation's early time declared
Before sunstream glow of street
Before the granite chip of civic slab I'd come to meet
to dispute a deserved parking fee,
A flagrant queue of refuse -- unmet yet
by street sweeper or any other
civic function, purpose shed -- abuts
courthouse corners and the curb.
Men -- mostly men, and black -- mostly black
condense into a sort of line. Black coffee steams
from white styrol mugs, disposable creamer cups
on the ground, commingle with the native trash.
These men have jobs (or don't). Here, both unique absurdities --
those shifts all tenuously covered by small favors,
lies, quid pro quos, to plead -- "Yes I did it,
what else could I do" -- what cannot be paid.
Justice is, so far, secured of them.
Four deputies -- belted, warm & white, haw
& hem behind gun & glass -- uphold the line
from getting in. And then at some appointed time --
One kicks the door ajar & sweeps off the supplicants
"The line ends here. All you come back next week."