Monday, June 7, 2021

Tad Tuleja

I HAVE TO WARN YOU
(On the death of Andrew Brown Jr., April 21, 2021)

Just a routine raid in the land of the free
Some sorry joker who sold one too many bags
Or waited a day too long to fix that tail light
Or was just unlucky enough to be driving while black

The network anchor, mindful of our feelings,
Warns the clip they are airing might be disturbing.
But all we see is seven guardians of the law
Protecting themselves against a known bad guy.

And editing thank God has cleaned up the language
So that all we hear besides the patter of bullets
Like the one that spiraled into the back of his head
Is beep and beep and beep as the deal goes down.

So thanks to the sensitive suits at CNN
For considering, as you did, my tender ears.
God knows what lifelong trauma I might have incurred
Had I been forced to endure an uncivil word.


Tad reads "I Have to Warn You":



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Tad confesses: "While this poem responds overtly to the “justified” killing of a black man by sheriff’s deputies, it reacts equally to the absurdity (or hypocrisy) of a media protocol that follows the tabloid principle “If it bleeds it leads” while bleeping out epithets every teenager knows. As if the real offense here was not the killing but the chance that snowflake viewers might feel assaulted by language."


TAD TULEJA is a Texas-based folklorist with interests in the Hollywood Western, honor cultures, and the mythology of violence. He has edited books on American vernacular traditions and military culture and has received a Puffin Foundation grant for his song cycle “Skein of Arms.” He performs his songs on YouTube under the name Skip Yarrow.

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