Home > Poetry > Police-Chalk Outline . . .
Published: Fri Jul 1 2011
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
Police-Chalk Outline . . .

Police-chalk outline of a dead man
stands up and starts tap-dancing.
That’s the opening scene. It occurs
on sidewalk outside a bar; people
gather, cars honk. Close-up: black
young woman, lovely, shrugs. “Maybe
it’s a song and dance,” she says, begins
singing, and all the colors brighten.
As her words pass through the dancing
outline, they become birds, rising,
spreading. Blue jays, orioles, cardinals,
red-winged blackbirds. Some merge
into cranes. Our point of view is now
above the city, which is a Monopoly
board in “Old Maid” Celia’s garage
next door when I was young and her
niece Anne came to visit summers.
She led games we neighborhood kids
played long, long before I was aware
of police-chalk outlines of dead men.
Sometimes I moved the little racing
car, sometimes the little top hat.

Dennis Trudell is the author of Fragments in Us: Recent & Earlier Poems (University of Wisconsin Press), which won the Pollak Prize. He also edited Full Court: A Literary Anthology of Basketball (Breakaway Books). His poems and stories have appeared in North American ReviewAGNI, Georgia Review, TriQuarterly, New England Review, and elsewhere, and have been reprinted in more than twenty anthologies. (updated 5/2011)

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