One fine morning they move in for the pinch
& snap on the cuffs--just like that.
Turns out they’ve known all about you for years,
have a file the length of a paddy-wagon
with everything--tapes, prints, film . . .
the whole shmear. Don’t ask me how but
they’ve managed to plug a mike into one of your molars
and know every felonious move & transgression
back to the very beginning, with ektachromes
of your least indiscretion & peccadillo.
Needless to say, you are thrilled,
tho sitting there in the docket
you bogart it, tough as an old tooth--
your jaw set, your sleeves rolled
& three days of stubble. . . . Only,
when they play it back it looks different:
a life common & loathsome as gum stuck to a chair.
Tedious hours of you picking your nose,
scratching, eating, clipping your toenails. . .
Alone, you look stupid; in public, your rapier
wit is slimy & limp as an old bandaid.
They have thousands of pictures of people around you
stifling yawns. As for sex--a bit
of pathetic groping among the unlovely & luckless:
a dance with everyone making steamy love in the dark
& you alone in a corner eating a pretzel.
You leap to your feet protesting
that’s not how it was, they have it all wrong.
But nobody hears you. The bailiff
is snoring, the judge is cleaning his teeth,
the jurors are all wearing glasses with eyes painted open.
The flies have folded their wings and stopped buzzing.
In the end, after huge doses of coffee,
the jury is polled. One after another
they manage to rise to their feet
like narcoleptics in August, sealing your fate:
Innocent. . .innocent. . .innocent. . . . Right down the line.
You are carried out screaming.