Three Poems by Gene Grabiner

All Eyes Are Upon Us

Mother, mother
There’s too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There’s far too many of you dying
–Marvin Gaye

then they stomped
John Willet

as he lay on the sidewalk
hands cuffed behind his back
and shot
Michael Brown

who was on his way this fall to college

Stop and frisk
Stop and frisk

and used a chokehold to kill
Eric Garner

who sold cigarettes one-by-one
on the street in Staten Island
and punched again, again
in the face
Marlene Pinnock

as she lay on the ground
then they stood around while
an angry bartender
pushed vet
William Sager

down the stairs to his death;
maybe helped hide
the security videotape
then it was
Dillon Taylor

in Salt Lake City, and
James Boyd
in Albuquerque
Darrien Hunt
in Saratoga Springs, Utah–

how about that grandmother
Kathryn Johnston

shot to death in a SWAT team raid
gone bad?

then it was
unarmed, homeless, mentally ill
Kelly Thomas

clubbed to death by three Fullerton cops
left with pulp for a face

in ‘73 in Dallas
Santos Rodriguez
was marked by officer Cain
who played Russian Roulette
with the handcuffed 12-year-old
in his cruiser—
till the .357 fired ; Santos’ blood
all over his 13-year-old handcuffed
brother David

and those cries of
19-month-old Bounkham Phonesavanh
in whose crib
the flash-bang grenade exploded

Shelter in place
Shelter in place

or 41 police gunshots at immigrant
Amadou Diallo
who died
right there
in the doorway
of his Bx. apt. bldg.

and that cop who shot and killed
Aiyana Stanley-Jones
as she slept
and those Cleveland cops who shot
Tamir Rice
who had a BB gun
and gave him no first aid–
watched him die

all those police
with gas masks and helmets in
Ferguson, Missouri
telling the people
don’t be on the streets after sundown

Ferguson— still a sundown town
maybe soon like a town near you

with M-16’s, MRAP’s,
armored personnel carriers—

in this war against the people


Incident at a Traffic Light

Two cars stop at the Winspear light
The white driver looks over
At the black driver
Who gives a hard look back―
Another white guy staring
So it’s a tough black look back
White guy still looking
Thumbs his nose, smiles
Black guy softens
Sticks thumbs in ears,
Fingers wiggle
Now both belly laughing
Through the open windows
Light changes

Spare a Dime?


Vast urban anacondas of the unemployed
ripple muscular down sidewalks, around corners, under neon,
past decorative awnings, window displays; past
black-shirted cops


of keys,
last click of that office door, final
clang of a locker
at the plant after the


abandonment of that woman
who worked
on the line since her teens: where she met her boyfriend, married,
kept house with him, raised three children,
pledged the flag,
was a church regular. She is left
with a stack of address labels for
mail that now will never again
leave that neat, small suburban house,
deftly taken by the bank.

Gene Grabiner’s poetry has appeared in: Connecticut River Review, Counterpunch, Green Prints, Jewish Currents, Passager, Naugatuck River Review, Rosebud, Ilya’s Honey, Blue Collar Review, J Journal, HazMat Review, and other journals and anthologies. He won third place in the 2014 Connecticut Poetry Society competition, was a semi-finalist in the 2013 Passager competition, and a runner-up in the 2012 William Stafford Award Competition. He was also a semi-finalist in the 2002 “Discover”/The Nation poetry competition. Grabiner has read at the Jackson Heights Poetry Festival in Queens, and at the International Festival of Poetry of Resistance, (IFPOR), in Toronto. He reads regularly in the Buffalo area, and travels for readings.

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