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Traffic Court

by Ken Haas


                                               Red light camera ticket


Big Brother                                      Entrapment                                  Municipal greed


                                   I'm here to rage against the machine

whose wheels                                I grease daily                                       at the office


In the earlier trials                            His Honor                    studiously mispronounces

Wang and Abboud               dupes an IHOP waitress                             into confessing


                                                 The scripted cops                   lounging in the jury box

suck their teeth                    when the old hippie says                the sun was in his eyes


                                                         Though                                             in their eyes

a faint daydream                           of minutemen                       and in the judge's voice

a cracked nod                       to Jefferson and Adams


                             We're all rebels to power till handed its flask


                                                           And I                    about to rise to face the robe

Land Rover parked                                                                        in the shade outside

kid I canned last week                                                           gone to live with his mom

                                     don't I still see myself as the man

who stood before a line of tanks                                         that summer in Tiananmen

book bag and food bag                                                                hung in fed-up hands



despite the legend                           not alone                                             made small

and large                                         by the one                                             unpic­tured

hunched           in the cockpit       of his Type 59                                             suddenly

roused              to gag                  the gears

stop them                                             dead                                    on those olive belts


                                            Who will stand up

                                    for the one who stood down



as waterfront fireworks                             soar                               will speak a bright word

                                             for Charles Cornwallis

his redcoats                                             turned                         toward their huddled ships

his sword                                             laid down                           in the Yorktown sludge