• jury duty

    Evie Shockley

    Winter 2020

    no one wants to be there. many of us glitter
       like the sea in sunshine, shedding sweat
    or tears at the mere thought of a criminal
      court. such proximity to police, to cuffs
    and charges. to be trapped playing a role

    in some tragedy, condemner uncomfortably
      close to the condemned. many others think
    instantly of opportunity costs: time is money.
      who can afford to spend three-to-five days’
    worth listening to the lawyers coming and

    going through the oceans of files, talking
      of boys who were no angels? no. to serve is
    a right and our duty, each to each—but
      the potential juror peers into the courtroom
    as if it were quarantined for the plague.

    Evie Shockley is the author of several collections of poetry, including the new black, winner of the 2012 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and semiautomatic, winner of the 2018 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and finalist for the LA Times Book Prize and the Pulitzer Prize. Her scholarship and poetry have been supported by fellowships from such institutions as the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the ACLS, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Millay Colony for the Arts, and MacDowell. She is Professor of English at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. 

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