Jalen Eutsey - Poetry


by Jalen Eutsey

I saw a man walking

with a monopod in his left hand,

camera in his right.

His wrist tucked into

the string at the top

of the rubber hand grip.

The monopod twisting

and swaying with the rhythm

of his stride.

There was a soccer game

going on in the stadium

behind me. Faint cheers

rose and fell

as we passed each other.

I blinked and the monopod

was a nightstick. I blinked

and tasted danger, remembered

the cost of existence

in the only body

I have blessed with breath.

I blinked and saw a monopod,

saw all the pictures

I wouldn’t take:

my firstborn

naked in a bathtub

with floaties on.

The woman of my dreams

in jeans and unflattering glasses

standing at the edge

of the Grand Canyon.

I blinked and saw

a picture I’d never see again,


from my middle school


thin adolescent body,

toothy smile

blemished by twisted

fingers, a gesturing hand.

I blinked and thought

of last night’s party,

the way I sat

on the black vinyl couch

and the respectable friends

who sat on either side of me.

I thought of the way

they would be erased

or their bodies blurred

by some news station intern.

How in this picture,

my soft curls are covered

with a beanie

to protect myself from the cold.

My face screwed up

in ironic menace.

When the nightstick powders

my cheekbones into purplish blue,

when the error

of my existence is a breathless body,

when my wounds

tell a story

only a coroner could read,

these will be the pictures they use:

shadows darkening my skin,

hoodie half-covering my eyes,

beneath my chin

a sideways peace sign.