April is the Cruelest Month by Pamela Sumners

The 2021 Prize Winner in Poetry selected by Douglas Manuel

April is the Cruelest Month | Pamela Sumners

I was watching the trial of a white cop
who put his knee on a Black man’s neck
for almost 10 minutes but my viewing
displeasure was interrupted by breaking
news of a white cop who shot a Black man
and then later on the 10 o’clock news I saw
two white cops taunt a Black guy dressed
in Army fatigues and pepper-spray him
and then a quick cutaway to more breaking
news of another school shooting some
where else in my America today but it’s
all OK because the first Black guy I was
watching on noon TV was an addict pass
ing a fake bill and the second Black guy
was breaking Minnesota law because
they don’t like little pine-tree deodorizers
dangling from rear-view mirrors that
jangle white cops’ nerves because they
impede everybody’s ability to see what’s
behind them and the ability to see back
wards in Minnesota is required so that
is why in the Land of 10,000 Lakes you
should leave your pine trees at home
because if you don’t the poor officer
might get confused by that second Black
guy getting mouthy with his breath about
air fresheners dangling in cars and this might
lead to another tragic accident and you know
it’s sad how in that last school schooling
on the 10 o’clock news it was a magnet
high school where you just do not expect
that sort of thing like you might at a regular
school or a massage parlor in a strip mall
or at the mall so big they call it The Galleria
or at the multiplex movie house inside
the big Galleria or maybe at a market, concert
or someplace that’s already dangerous
anyway like a gay bar within shooting
distance of Disney World for Chrissakes
and the NRA and your representative in
Washington ask for thoughts and prayers
for the victims of these tragic accidents
that could all have been avoided if Black
people all just complied with the law
and reasonable requests from the cops
and if those dead kids and maybe all
of us just had guns to defend ourselves
except the Black people, who should
just follow orders and not resist—isn’t
that about right, if that’s a question?


About the Author:

Pamela Sumners is the author of Ragpicking Ezekiel’s Bones (UnCollected Press 2020) and a Rane Arroyo chapbook selection (Seven Kitchens Press, 2021). A listing of publications and literary awards is available A native Alabamian and former constitutional and civil rights lawyer, she now lives in St. Louis with her wife, son, and three rescue pit bulls.