Algorithm helps New York decide who goes free before trial

The Wall Street Journal // Sept. 20, 2020

The courthouse that calls to me
              is only five blocks from home
but I drive anyway and you

are shirtless on the corner, the rain

and your skin each terrified of the other. The light
              stays red long enough for you to ask
for a lift and maybe I’ll drop you

off at the plasma center

or maybe I won’t. Maybe you’ll ask
              to bum a cigarette
or pull a knife on me

and I’ll have no choice but to kill you. Maybe

we will ride getaway together, speed through a school
              zone, take every billboard into our palms, clench,
crumble, and spread their remains

over the 1950s. We will set fire to a Bentley

and all of language, murder
              a store clerk with memory and sink his body
                           in the river. They already know. Maybe

              they will lock us in a ward, make us

case study subjects of fathers
              without fathers. Maybe we will rob
the city block of blue and give every bit back
to prayer logic.  Maybe we will call home

and someone will answer. They already know
              of all those burnt out cars,
                                                        all those bodies in the river,

all those hollow words

                            for which we’ll hang. They already know
              and hope they have no choice

but to keep us cuffed

              to all the crimes we must commit.


Photo by Nate Grant on Unsplash

Patrick Wilcox

Patrick Wilcox is from Independence, Missouri, a large suburb just outside Kansas City best known for the Oregon Trail, Harry S. Truman, and in recent decades, production of methamphetamine. He has studied English and Creative writing at the University of Central Missouri. He is a three-time recipient of the David Baker Award for Poetry and 2020 honorable mention of Ninth Letter’s Poetry Award. My work has appeared in Arcade, Knockout, and Quarter After Eight.