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Matters of Law


It’s not a courthouse, but a trailer in back.
The city has no money to build. 
The walls aren’t plaster, but faux wood.
    And I didn’t completely stop,
    but the dickhead cop saw quota even before
    his flashing lights highlighted my
    honest California roll.

I stood in line downtown with the
doo-ragged single mothers,
heavily-tatted sistas,
and wife-beater wearin’ brothers
convinced their first-hand knowledge
combined with my ignorance
in matters of  the judicial system
somehow made me better than them.

The judge called us up one at a time,
and read our charges airing our
dirty broken-law laundry.

Chavez. You’ve been charged with driving 35 in a 25 mile per hour zone.
How do you plead? Guilty.

Washington. You’ve been charged with failure to appear. How do you plead?

Romo. You’ve been charged with failure to stop at a stop sign.
How do you plead…?

My eyes rolled slowly around the room
like my Maxima through the intersection of Bellflower Blvd.
and 23rd street.
These people were stolen cars:
the subjects of prime-time high speed pursuits.

I scanned the faces of the non-stoppers,
no-shows, speeders and spitters—
like the Cholo who’s saliva stung the sidewalk
at the officer’s feet claiming to the judge
he was just congested.
Then I reached my own verdict,
waiving my right to trial
sentencing myself,
realizing at least they could acknowledge
who they are.

Because we’re all criminals at some point in our lives,
failing to yield to our own reflections in the
rear view mirror.

I loosened my silk GAP tie,
threw my hands in the air and said,
“Guilty your honor.
God damn it I’m guilty.”


About Daniel Romo

Author of Apologies in Reverse (FutureCycle Press, 2019), When Kerosene's Involved (Mojave River Press, 2014) and Romancing Gravity (Silver Birch Press, 2013). I'm partial to prose poems. Alliteration. And fragments.

2 responses »

  1. Thanks man. Not one of my best. But it’s decent.


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