Forgive us our trespass
the staring eyes weighing your debt
columns of victimization
legal paper calculations.
We swore an oath to dig into your wounds
peel back your stiffened skin
uncover the dirt and dormant seeds
buried deep within.
They paid us, even
to take our notes
to dissect your worth
to judge the culpability of your
snuff film death.
(What were you worth, in the end?)
We became experts in your flaws
specialists in your suffering
more authority in our twelve hands
than all the angels in Heaven.
We wielded condemnation and salvation
over burnt coffee and gas station sandwiches.
And when it came time to judge
and fell silent in turn.
Twelve strangers in a circle
weary and worn
wanting loved ones
wanting to forget.
Comrades in unwanted villainy
dark oath sealed in blood and legalese
a forced and foregone surrender.
Thus is justice meted out in this realm.
Yet I swear to you
for what comfort it may bring the grave
we still lay awake at night
we still stare into the darkness, haunted
the silent film flickering upon the wall
upon our lidless eyes.
We still catalogue your violations
locked in each private vault
[ Some thoughts from my experience as a juror on a murder trial last year. ]