Tuesday Poem

Untitled [Executions have always been public spectacles]

Executions have always been public spectacles. It is New Year’s
2009 in Austin and we are listening to Jaguares on the speakers.
Alexa doesn’t exist yet so we cannot ask her any questions. It is
nearly 3 AM, and we run out of champagne. At Fruitvale Station,
a man on his way home on a train falls onto the platform, hands
cuffed. Witnesses capture the assassination with a grainy video on
a cell phone. I am too drunk, too in love, to react when I hear the
news. I do not have Twitter to search for the truth. Rancière said
looking is not the same as knowing. I watch protests on the
television while I sit motionless in the apartment, long after she
left me. Are we what he calls the emancipated spectator, in which
spectatorship is “not passivity that’s turned into activity” but,
instead, “our normal situation”? Police see their god in their
batons, map stains and welts on the continents of bodies. To beat
a body attempts to own it. And when the body cannot be owned,
it must be extinguished.

by Mónica Teresa Ortiz
from the Academy of American Poets.