In 2018, Dallas, Texas police officer Amber Guyger shot 26-year-old Botham Jean, a black accountant from St. Lucia, while in his home watching tv and eating ice-cream; unarmed. Guyger entered the wrong apartment and believed Botham was burglarizing her premises. She was convicted of murder in October 2019 and sentenced to ten years in prison.
be at your apartment; be male; be in your boxers; be alone;
be black; be watching tv; be eating ice-cream; be shaking off that hot Texas day, those dry winds;
be finally home; be praising the old-school parlor, their artisan flavors, their chef churning behind the counter; be the counter; be your tongue tingling on that avocado-lime reminding you of home;
be home; be ocean; be sun; be a riot; be a child with blue jean shorts on and no shirt splashing waves along the shore, pretending he’s a lighthouse; be Jean; be waves; be a safe harbor for ships; be safe; be harbor; be ships; be island; there are so many islands! as many islands as the stars at night; be stars; be night;
be home; be seated; be raising the bent spoon to your mouth; be mouth; be singing; be gospel;
be surprised at the white woman passing through your door, who echoes strong, emotional vocals, as if singing; be standing; be trying to think where you know her from; be turning toward her; be threat; be target; be still; be only thinking and blinking; be frozen;
be scoops of ice-cream as your body gets covered with bullets and blood, like toppings.
be that woman; be police; be white; be blonde;
be flirting; be focused on your lover; be focused; be parking your pickup truck a level above your own apartment; be at your own apartment, notice the door ajar; be the door; be ajar, draw your service weapon; be a weapon;
be your feet trespassing through the threshold; be feet; be threshold; be surprised by the huge silhouette; be wary of the black shadow looming in the low visibility of the home;
be careful, don’t accelerate through the amber light; be Amber; be light; be safe; be home; be intruder; be victim; be a sacred song; be a hymn; be in harmony; be a prayer; be crying out as if your entire choir responds to the preacher’s call;
be gun; be trigger-finger; be a spent casing tumbling to the ground; be another round; be gunpowder burning; be bullets; be the bullet’s trajectory moving past the kitchen, the carpet, as it culls the night air;
be the night air; be moving past your kitchen, your carpet; be still; be human; be still like the cut flowers, the fruits and vegetables, the wine in your photographs; be a still life photograph;
be uninterested in the taking or capturing of human life.
Gustavo Adolfo Aybar’s first poetry collection, We Seek Asylum, was the 2016 Grand Prize Winner for Poetry, Willow Books Literature Award and published in 2017. His chapbook, Between Line Breaks, was published by Spartan Press in 2016. As a Dominican poet, he has been a member of the Latino Writers Collective, plus received fellowships from Cave Canem and Artist Inc. His poems, essays, and translations have appeared in !Manteca!: An Anthology of Afro-Latin@ Poets, Primera Página: Poetry from the Latino Heartland, NINE: A Journal of Baseball History & Culture, Salem Press, ABC-CLIO, Asymptote, EZRA, InTranslation, and other journals and anthologies. His newest manuscript is an interactive, hybrid collection related to his law enforcement experience. Aybar is also working on a couple of illustrated children’s books, a father/son collection of essays, and on translating more texts from Mexican author/playwright Glafira Rocha. His first kid’s book, Same or Different about blending families after divorce will be completed in 2021.
You can follow him on Instagram @gustavoadolfoaybar