Fitting the Description

drug war

In the years of President Kennedy,
a weed that had grown in Spanish Harlem
sprouted into Johnny.
Barely a year out of high school
when he was accosted by gang members on the street.

The two thugs hailed from the biggest gang in town,
so Johnny knew better than to resist.
Johnny fit the description of a young, up and coming drug dealer,
and the gang didn’t like competition.

“Where’s the dope?” they asked as they went through his pockets.
Despite insisting that he had none, the gang kidnapped him anyway,
hurling him into their wagon with the other young Puerto Rican men,
his wrists choking from the bracelets they gave him.

Charged with being a spic on a sunny day,
Johnny hoped to get the charges reduced to partly cloudy.
The gang led him to their kennel
where the constant barking kept him awake
while the true animals walked free.

When the sun rose,
he was told to go home
since the gang’s competitor had been found the night before
Johnny left their clubhouse angry
yet happy to have regained
what little freedom he had before.

Even in the years of President Obama,
in too many cities in the Land of the Free
young men of color often seem
to fit the description
even when the description does not fit them.

Daniel Cuevas
Daniel Cuevas
After nearly a decade as a journalist in New York City, Daniel Cuevas now runs the Manchvegas Press in New Hampshire, and writes poetry for the page as well as the microphone.