Thursday, October 3, 2013

Trial (Poem)

This is a poem I wrote with an eye to entering the Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing. I wasn't completely happy with it, plus I got busy and missed the submission deadline, but I do think it's good enough to be worth an airing somewhere. Maybe. You decide.

Warning: This is not my usual sort of poem, and the content may disturb some readers. There are no fluffy bunnies floating on pink clouds in this one.


they say murder is the ultimate crime, but I dunno
watching those girls' eyes on the CCTV as they talked about it -

gate leave for the weekend, thank God for that
I invited a few of the blokes around for a barbie, hon, take your mind off things
helluva jury to be on, mate,
better you than me, I saw on the news -

wait, you're not 'sposed to talk to him about it.
want another chop, love?

the defence lawyer's eyes are weird. hooded, like a snake's
he waggles his thick eyebrows at us as he's making some point or other;
it's probably meant to look clever, but it just looks bizarre.
Millie, the next juror along, makes her gasping half-giggle that drives everyone bananas.
"Recess!" says the judge, her designer glasses rubbing a red splotch on her nose

in the jury room, I drink sour orange juice, the cheap concentrate kind and tot up evidence on my notepad.
"Maaaaate, not yet, mate!" says the foreman, a big guy with a huge shiny bald head
but I want to see it laid out, in marks on a page
(like the marks on those girls' arms and legs, in the photos)

after the break the lawyers argue about some inconsequential shit
Thanh, the girl in front of me, draws delicate little goldfish on her notebook, while
beside me, Millie snores softly. It's boring as batshit, this,
and we don't understand it anyway, they don't even want us to
just want to tick a box so they can say we were told.

all I care about is - a) did he do it? b) how hard can we smash him if he did?

tomorrow we get to hear from the accused, the man himself
he's been sitting in that box, looking as bored as we are, for days -
ordinary enough looking fella, but it just goes to show, I guess.

I'm glad, anyway, they didn't make the girls come in to testify.
that would've been all kinds of cruel, and anyway,
it wasn't like that scum of a defence lawyer didn't still ask them the most horrific -
no, the most disgusting -
shit you can imagine. The three women on the jury all cried, after,
while the foreman raged, and I went and threw up in the toilet.
people shouldn't have to hear it. but then, people shouldn't have to feel it either
those poor girls. I see them in my dreams, now -

in the witness box, he looks cool, calm; he's wearing a light blue suit
the stripey tie doesn't match, looks very 80s actually.
his lawyer takes him through his story, his blanket of denials,
mitigations and protestations and disclaimers. I feel like my head is full of smoke
Thanh passes a note back that says, I just want to punch him.
The foreman, seeing it, nods vigorously a bunch of times.

later, they give us the case. it's a funny way of saying it
this case has been ours, like it or not, since we sat down for the first time.

it doesn't take us long. we all agree, too
unbelievable arsehole, says Mitch the welder, and we all nod gravely
as if he's just spoken some transcendental truth.

so say we all, Your Honour -
the accused - no, the convicted criminal - looks at us for a long moment
I wish I could say his lip curls or something, but he just turns away.

in the jury room, we gather up our things, exchange handshakes and hugs
we all say we're relieved, glad it's over -
what a laugh. as if it is.

later, I see them in my dream again
and they're laughing, laughing, as behind them
the monster coils to strike.

- Kathy, September 2013

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