In the Gray Area
By Sean Battle

“Dark and light, bad and good, are not different but one and the same”-Heraclitus

So what if Christopher Dorner turned sirens on cop culture:
Badge wearing killers of spirits whose bodies were left
to rot in and out of jail. So what if he silenced a father
and husband who turned broken tail lights into step out
of the car please
. So what if a cop’s daughter and her fiancé
were sentenced to slaughter by association. So what if his
action film sprint through Cali caused vans mistaken
for his to be shot up into Swiss. So what if his manifesto
was correct, his callousness a rooster crow waking up
United Barnyards. So what if black people rooted for him;
anti-hero of TV movie competing against the black president’s
state of the union. So what if he bought guns to prove ease
of purchase; master tools aimed at the master’s house by a rebel
highly trained in the master’s military. So what if he swore
to serve this spectacle of stolen land. So what if drones
sent after him were to survey. So what if the next ones
in American air can be set to slay. So what if they say his
plastic ID popped up in ash that was once a barn. So what
if gunshots flew beforehand on camera, cops looking like
they are doing good work. So what if black people mourn his
bright face, smile wide as arms for a hug.

The Meeting
By Sean Battle

After Amiri Baraka , for Ras Baraka
Newark Symphony Hall, Newark, NJ

Like the cup, his coffin
overflowed, flooded
the audience with one
more river of truth
to swim and sip from.

Behold the bridge
between bourgeois
and be-bop, adjunct
and junkie, classroom
and colored class systems.

We raise fist and voice
as thirty speakers let
Amiri use them once
more, show out what
part of he is in them.

From times of war
come strategy to be
used at the right moment.
Sistah Soljah spoke of one
revealed to us today.

Let it be known, she said,
that your father was a man
of action, and if he laid
down now, it’s because
he’s a political strategist.

Of all the times Amiri
could have transitioned,
his son marches toward
Newark’s mayoral office.
All eyes on Ras.

Some may call this
implant of voting how-to
tacky. Truth tellers know
little separates politic from
pavement and pulped bodies.

If we did not use this
river flowing from his
coffin to call for action,
disgrace we are to his
body of flesh and verb.

Born in Camden, NJ, Sean Battle is the combination of an ambitious mother and Pro Wrestling theatrics. A random homework assignment in US History class would lead to his first poem, in the voice of a soldier in WWII. His work on written, verbal, and physical poetics has led to an MFA in Poetry at Rutgers-Newark, and a BA in English at Rutgers-New Brunswick, where he was President of the Verbal Mayhem Poetry Collective. Battle’s poems have been published in journals such as Borderline, Radius: Poetry from the Center to the Edge, and The Legendary, as well as written and performed for the Raices Cultural Center production, Spirit of the Drum: History and Evolution of a Caribbean Tradition. He resides in Newark, NJ as an Adjunct Professor for English at Essex County College and will be releasing  his first full-length poetry collection, The Forest of Bricks, through Mylk N’ Honee Publishing in December 2014. Visit