KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 8: August 2017
Poem: 208 words

Look What You Created

by Michelle Brooks
People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.
—James Baldwin

The year I almost died, I watched Rodney King 
on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, Rodney’s plea 
from years earlier ringing in my ears, Can’t we all
just get along? As I watched the City of Angels burn
in a morphine haze, I remembered the Devil himself 
was the brightest angel. In the footage, the dead 
and injured looked like shadows, the news cameras
trained on the flames. Alone in ICU, I couldn’t tell
if it was day or night but I knew Rodney, watched
as he talked to Dr. Drew about the tape, the one where 
the cops beat him on what seemed to be an endless loop.

Rodney drowned to death in his fiancé’s pool
a few years later. He’d been trying to drown himself
from the inside with alcohol, to kill the pain bigger
than himself. That’s what I imagine anyway, having
killed a bit of pain myself. I cried, thinking how sweet
Rodney had seen me through those hospital hours,
a tube down my throat, my blood contaminated 
by the poison I’d carried inside of me until it exploded.
That’s my story, and maybe that’s everyone’s story.


Publisher’s Note: The epigram is from “Stranger in the Village,” an essay by novelist James Baldwin, originally published in Harper’s Magazine (1953) and later included in his first collection of essays, Notes of a Native Son (1955).

Site contains text, proprietary computer code,
and graphic images that are protected by:

⚡   Many thanks for taking time to report broken links to: KYSOWebmaster [at] gmail [dot] com   ⚡