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When I see the two cops laughing 
after one of them gets shot
because this is TV and one says
while putting pressure on the wound,
Haha, you're going to be fine,
and the other says, I know, haha!
as the ambulance arrives—
I know the men are white.
I think of a clip from the hours 
of amateur footage I've seen
when another man at an intersection
gets shot, falls, and bleeds from a hole
the viewer knows exists only by the way 
the dark red pools by the standing cop's feet,
gun now holstered, who
yells the audience back to the sidewalk.
I know which one is dying 
while black and which one stands by white. 
I think this morning about the student 
in my class who wrote a free write line 
on the video I played
that showed a man pouring water
on his own chest, "...the homoerotic 
scene against a white sky" with no other men 
present. Who gets to see and who follows
what script? I ask my students. 
Whose lines are these and by what hand
are they written?

Amy King, "Perspective." Copyright © 2016 by Amy King. Used by permission of the author for PoetryNow, a partnership between the Poetry Foundation and the WFMT Radio Network.
Source: PoetryNow (2016)
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  • Raised in Baltimore and Georgia, Amy King earned a BS in English and women’s studies from Towson University, an MFA in poetry from Brooklyn College, and an MA in poetics from SUNY Buffalo. Her writing, which shows elements of Language poetry, has been influenced by her work with Charles Bernstein and Susan Howe in Buffalo, although she is also drawn to confessional and New York School poets. She has cited César Vallejo, Gertrude Stein, Laura (Riding) Jackson, and John Ashbery as her current influences. While applying pressure to the boundaries of “queer” poetry, King also finds inspiration in pop culture, science, social taxonomies, and other questions of gender, ontology, and culture.
    King's forthcoming book, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. John Ashbery described her poems in I Want to Make You Safe (Litmus Press, 2011) as bringing “abstractions to brilliant, jagged life, emerging into...

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