The following poem was my reaction to the Kent State Shootings in 1970. It is yet another sonnet ( I seem to have written a lot of them). If I were writing the poem today, I would make the secret urge line more ambiguous, and I would make the link to Kent State more explicit. ( The shooters at Kent State were National Guardsmen, not police.) But on reflection, I think the little verse does a good job of focusing on the right issue.
A rock – no harmless little thing to throw.
My sister’s hit me once – I have a scar.
Today, an urged-by-anger youth I know
Threw his own rock, not very far.
Not far, but hard and straight, and at a man
In blue, a man who had his job to do.
His job – to put down riots if he can,
Despite his secret urge to kill a few.
And now, the youth lies bloody-red on stone,
And all the satisfaction he had known
When he threw the rock, must ebb away.
Perhaps the man in blue did well, you say.
I say, the picture says what must be said:
One man in blue, the other: glistening red.