August 20, 2013

On Writing “Sanford”

I was in a taproom in Seminole County that brews its own beer five days after the George Zimmerman verdict and I was there to people watch. During that time, I heard talk of the president wanting to take away their guns, about the armories in their houses, their cars, how we elected a black president so “they should just deal with it”, about the inappropriate clothing one wore near the protest group outside the courthouse. I let these snippets settle for a couple of days before writing this poem, recently featured in Nailed Magazine.

I will never know what it is like to be stopped and frisked, to be profiled for something other than someone who may provide tech support. This poem was the only way I knew how to articulate everything going on around me and the outcome of the trial.

I don’t believe in protests. I believe in voting. I believe the lack of voter turnout is what allows Stand Your Ground and Rick Scott to exist in this state. If people would put the same time and energy in voting that they do to protesting, things could be better, or start to be better. I know as a state, and as a country, we’re not there and we have more work to do on that end.

White people also have to stop retreating behind the phrase “we’re living in a post racial society” whenever something precious to them is threatened. If you ever find me using this term earnestly, I expect you to dress me down severely.


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About J. Bradley

J. Bradley's is a Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominated writer whose work has appeared in numerous literary journals including decomP, Hobart, and Prairie Schooner. He was the Interviews Editor of PANK, the Flash Fiction Editor of NAP, and the Web Editor of Monkeybicycle. He is the author of the poetry collection Dodging Traffic (Ampersand Books, 2009), the novella Bodies Made of Smoke (HOUSEFIRE, 2012), and the graphic poetry collection The Bones of Us (YesYes Books, 2014), illustrated by Adam Scott Mazer. He is the curator of the Central Florida reading series There Will Be Words and lives at

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