8 November 2007 | Vol. 7, No. 3

Pro Bono

The bondsman wouldn't touch him, and when they bring him up, shuffling and handcuffed, you almost don't recognize your man. He looks beat. Meek. Maybe make-believe, like something's just gone off inside him. You're in the court of common pleas, but it feels to you like a lot of sermonizing, all mystical and official, all ritual, all well-oiled wood. They ask their questions, give their speeches, do their business—quarreling or collaborating, you can't tell which—in a language you can't quite translate. All you have to do is wait. Justice rips along like a saw, like the story, its teeth like cogs, grinding and cranking away. They concede and log and call and confer, stand your man up, push him back down. You don't know if you're getting what you allow, or what you want, or what you deserve, but when they release him you don't feel guilty. Near him, you feel found.

About the author:

Brandy is a poet and librarian finishing her first collection in Maryland, her native state. Other poems from the project have appeared most recently in Salt Hill, Lungfull!, and Calyx.

For further reading:

See the complete list of work by Brandy Whitlock at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 7, No. 3, where "Pro Bono" ran on November 8, 2007. List other work with these same labels: poetry, prose poem.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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