John White Defends

John White1 Defends



They came

in the dead of night

with their ghost skin and war cries

their tongues sharpened with hate

nigger this, nigger that

They came

as always they have come and come

again my worse nightmare sprung

alive—they were here

for my son



the fancy house

the two car garage

the low trimmed lawn

the petunias and peonies

the tomatoes and summer herbs

my name in fancy letters on the mailbox


—I should have known

there would be a reckoning



I said, please then

I said stop then

I said no



I wanted

to spare him the burning


the dangerous


the needle

the bullet

the shackles

the whip of a merciless law

I wanted to spare him





1John White is an African American convicted for the shooting of a young white teenager who went to White’s Long Island home at 2 a.m., drunk and armed with a baseball bat. The teen claimed that he and his posse were there to ‘take care of’ White’s son, Aaron, because of a rumor that Aaron had made sexual comments about his girlfriend on MySpace.

published in: aspeers: emerging voinces in american studies 3 (2010): 52-53.