Joseph Ross

Trayvon Martin: Requiem
February 5, 1995 – February 26, 2012

When Words

When words cough
in a hot wind.

When a fist kisses
the concrete over

and over until
bones break, stones

stick to blood
where skin was.

They do not
wash out

and a boy is

In The Courtoom

In the courtroom
the lawyers used

a foam dummy,
a barely human shape,

faceless and colorless,
just like America

is not.
They hoped

to show the how
and where and if

of a boy’s last moments.
To show the how and

and where and if
of a man’s worst act.

The lawyers wanted us
to see these questions.

But they failed.
No one can see



A mother should
never have to

ask for the body
of her son

more than once.
But in America

this repetition is
a pleading, a litany

to which we respond
with faith: No.

He will not be buried
in Mississippi: No.

His name is not John
Doe: No.

He was riding
the BART train

home, not starting
anything: No.

A collapsed life
should not lie

four hours in a street,
bleeding in protest: No.

You may not take
a photograph of

his body: No.
His story will not

end in Memphis: No.


Rain does not
bless this

body, like holy
water might. A

boy broken by a
man who was

afraid. A boy
ruined by a

country who is
still afraid.

Rain washes,
like holy water

might. Rain
makes holy,

like holy water
might. But not

this. Some
wounds cannot be

washed clean.
Some sidewalks

will never be holy.
Some nights rain

is a liar. Tonight
rain looks

the same on
living skin

as it does
on dead.


Here are jump shots
that will not

arc toward

Here are free throws
that will not

silence a gym.
Here are steals

where the point
guard does not see

the ball slapped
away in a blur

of hands and bent
knees. Here,

the guard does not
fall back

on his heels

watching this
boy streak

toward a ghost