run while you can

You’re no vent. Still senselessness.

Vent and butt. Madison, WI. Spring 2007.

As I saw it, earlier today, while reading and writing at the union after washing my kitchen floor:

It is difficult to determine the worst part of witnessing an assault across the street. Seeing it on television, yeah, didn’t numb me one bit.

You slapped him. And pushed him. He swatted back. You yelled then he quieted you with a murderous stare. You saw it in his eyes, tried to make a break for the driver’s seat of your vehicle. Seated, he grabbed at you. Held his elbow around your neck, pulled your hair.

I am on patio furniture pulling out my cellphone. A student roughly my age walks by with his pulled like a gun. The student didn’t dial. Unlike me, the student didn’t have to say ‘black male, mid-twentites’ over the phone to a police dispatcher.

He momentarily refrains from choking you. You honk the horn for help. The public doesn’t respond.

Is there something wrong with me? On the line, thoroughly describing a blue minivan. Make and model. A poor angle prevents me from reading the plates. A middle-aged women is also seated on the patio. She is  reading a newspaper, smoking a cigarette and avoiding all eye contact. I too grow silent, waiting, feeling worthless.

He shakes you, forcibly yanks you from the drivers seat of a mid-90’s mercury villager. Papers fly out onto the sidewalk. On your knees you pick a few of them up.

Hell, just a moment ago I was writing a poem that dubbed substantial rain ‘surly.’ I am stupid; still on the line with the dispatcher.

He walks away. You return to the driver’s seat. He opens the passenger’s side door.

I can’t get a damn thing straight anymore. Just the yelling.

There is no excelling at ‘being a man.’ Talk about a contrived burden. I am even an educated white male. Yeah. Fuck me. Telling the voice on the other end that the van is pulling out, driving away. Yeah. Westbound. Then a left turn. Southbound. A squad rolls through two minutes later.

I am spinelessness, unsettled in my easy life. I can’t stop a man at Wal-mart from grabbing my crotch. And there is no way I’d even try to stop a man with a box-cutter on an airplane. Heroes are mythic; stoic at the very least. My credentials probably make me an academic at best. But bloody hell, protocol is to call, not to step in.

Why do I feel disappointed in myself then? Like I am letting someone down. My better half knows the ‘someone’ is you.

Driving away only to be pulled over. Perhaps two miles down the road. Possibly questioned. Probably to no avail.

I can’t even apologize. I don’t even know my place. I hang up.


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