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Charge to the Jury

January 12, 2010

by Monica Raymond

In your cool gaze, your neutrality
try to find mercy.

As you mark
the indignation of sparrows

and water seethes her bitter testimony
brackish and abused

try to seek abnegation
for the human—

some mitigating circumstance
uncertain childhood, bitter economy,

metallurgy, glamour, greed:
beauty swollen, congealed.

Try to remember this species
that dates itself by its weapons

is born hairless and has to construct
an armor of fictions,

that gravity, though pale
and guiltless as the sky

is of necessity
the opponent.

When you are tempted by the austere
precision of salutes

expressionist blur
of explosion,

try to feel kindness for this ever-breeding
lichen breathing narration.

Keep us from war, from pestilence,
from self-destruction

remember babies, joy, sages
whatever redeems us.

Be the hand on the scale
for life, try to find mercy.


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Monica Raymond won the Castillo Prize in political theater for her play The Owl Girl, which is about two families in an unnamed Middle Eastern country who both have keys to the same house. She was a Jerome Fellow for 2008-09 at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, among many other honors and awards. Her poetry has been published in the Colorado Review, the Iowa Review, and the Village Voice, and her work has been selected for publication by every pair of qarrtsiluni editors for ten issues in a row now (counting the upcoming Health issue).

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