Rodney King is Not Dead

This poem was first published on East Fork Journal The UC Clermont student run literary journal in the Fall of 2016. I was happy it was published across the country so my dad didn’t have to read it. But I don’t care anymore, sometimes the truth hurts.    


Rodney King Is Not Dead

by Jon Vreeland


Did you hear that Rodney King died?
He drowned, and of course they claim
King was drunk, high, whatever.
I wonder if he’s finally at peace?
I wonder if God put him on a special list
of people who really got it bad
while serving their Life Sentence,
a list for the one’s chewed up and spit out
by the white supremacists wearing
badges and carrying guns and
Treating people like animals, putting them in cages.

I saw the tape.
I was a child and saw the tape because
my dad watched the trials every day.

“See! He’s getting up he’s getting up!!” he said
as Rodney’s limp body bounced off the concrete from blow after blow (by cops later acquitted)

(my stomach tied itself in knots as I thought of the Sunday before, when we sat in Church and my dad told me  “Always be a good Christian if not anything else”)

“But dad they are using excessive force! Why are they hurting him?!”

(I’d like to think I knew that word when
I was hairless and confused;
confused on why my dad hated Rodney King, a father, a son).

“Because he’s trying to get up!”

“But there are so many of them and he’s barely moving!”

“He’s trying to get up Jon.”

When I saw Rodney King
on Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab,
about twenty years later,
smiling with his two daughters
who he tried to have a relationship with,
and to the best of his ability,
I knew his soul was good.

I knew that all along, that Rodney was no different than
Yours Truly:
a man with problems
with tons of damaged love in his heart.

I watched those white cops beat the
be-jesus out of King while my dad
claimed he was “trying to get up”
(get up and do what? I can only imagine what he presumed)

Rodney King is not dead.
I think about him every day and wonder if his
Daughters are doing well.
I wonder if he forgives those officers and judge
And jury who found these officers
Not Guilty of an act that even a 12 year old knew was more than wrong

Even then I knew my dad was worse off than Mr. King
as he held his pom-poms high in the sky,
And taught his little boy the
true meaning
Of what I knew was a great example of,

Futile Hate.

Image result for Rodney King beating

Image result for rodney king

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