Groundhog Day

This poem appears in Len Lawson's collection Chime.

It has been widely requested and taught by supporters, creative writing professors, workshop facilitators, and high school teachers. A PDF version of the poem is available here. Lesson plans and workshop resources are

soon to come. 

Groundhog Day

by Len Lawson

 

Wake up

Shower

Brush teeth and hair

Lotion with cocoa butter

Get dressed

Drink coffee

Drive to work

Drive home

Stopped by police

Demanded to show license

Ask why

Get cursed out

Curse back

Reach for license

Dead

 

Wake up

Shower

Brush teeth and hair

Lotion with cocoa butter

Get dressed

Drink coffee

Drive to work

Drive home

Stopped by police

Demanded to show license

Be polite

Explain you have a family

Be polite

Explain you are reaching for license

Dead

 

Wake up

Shower

Brush teeth and hair

Lotion with cocoa butter

Get dressed

Drink coffee

Drive to work

Drive home

Stopped by police

Demanded to show license

Be polite

Ask how cop’s day is going

Get angry at response about too many niggers on the streets

Attempt reasonable conversation on diversity

Get cursed out

Screamed at to show license

Do nothing

Get jerked by collar

Stay frozen

Gun aimed in your face

Stay frozen

Not even blinking

Get dragged out of car

Attempt to stand

Dead

 

Wake up

Shower

Brush teeth and hair

Lotion with cocoa butter

Get dressed

Drink coffee

Drive to work

Drive home

Stopped by police

Demanded to show license

Drive

Drive

Drive

Get chased by cop

then another then another then another

until you lead a troop of squad cars through town

Poke head out of window

Laugh maniacally

Smile at chopper overhead

Drive onto the interstate

Get cheered by other black men standing by

Remember your family

See your wife’s face crying at her TV

See your child asking Mommy tough questions about Daddy

See your phone ring in the car

Answer with Baby I love you

Get asked Why are you doing this

Answer It’s the only way out

Hear screams of Come home

Hear child yell Come home Daddy

Hear chopper blades & sirens with wife’s yelling

Stop the car

Get out

Raise hands over your head

Say to police I want to go home

Dead

 

Wake up

Shower

Brush teeth and hair

Lotion with cocoa butter

Get dressed

Drink coffee

Drive to nearest pawn shop

Buy gun

Drive to work

Leave gun in car

Drive home

Stopped by police

Demanded to show license

Grab gun under seat

Point at approaching cop

Relish in cop's fear before screaming Is this what you want!

Point gun at self

Dead

 

Wake up

Shower

Brush teeth and hair

Lotion with cocoa butter

Get dressed

Drink coffee

Drive to work

Look up cop online

Research his credentials

Search for his family on social media

Find his wife

Find their address

Leave work

Go to cop’s home

Greet cop’s wife at the door

Explain that her husband has killed you each of the last five days

Ask why her husband hates black people

Ask how you can convince her husband

that you are a man with a family who wants a bright future for his child

See three police cars pull up behind you

See her husband get out

Realize she called the police before you approached the door

Raise hands and kneel to the ground

Close your eyes and whisper to your wife you love her

Get beat down by police on the pavement

Get thrown into cop car

Feel broken bones and see with blurry vision out of only one eye

Ask cop how many black men he has killed

Hear him cackle and say Not enough

All of them if I could

Do not survive car ride to jail

Dead

 

Wake up

Kiss your wife

Kiss your child

Brush teeth and hair

Observe the wisdom and grace of the scarf on your wife’s head

Lotion with cocoa butter

Remember the smell of your child moments after leaving the womb

Get dressed

Hug your wife

Hug your child

Cry at the sight of your child’s bright face

Pick up child in your arms

Notice the eyes, nose, and smile like yours

Tell your family you won’t be home tonight

Hear your shocked wife ask why

Answer through tears I don’t know

Maybe one day

But maybe not today

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© 2014 by Len Lawson. All Rights Reserved.