#3 – Physics Lesson for Officer Darren Wilson, The Cop Who Shot Unarmed Mike Brown Six Times inFerguson, Missouri


This week, Drunk in a Midnight Choir celebrates our One Year Anniversary! Since we launched on February 6, 2014, we’ve had the great privilege of publishing a whole lot of amazing work, from a wide array of talented contributors. All week, we’ll be catching you up on some highlights from the last year. Here we present to you the top ten most-read posts of the year, counting down from ten.

We first published this incredible, gut-wrenching piece last summer, not long after Mike Brown was killed. A lot of readers showed up when it was first posted, and it was one of those pieces that got several reads a day for weeks afterward. But it wasn’t until after Officer Darren Wilson’s acquittal in late November, and we re-posted the piece on our front page, that the flood of readers came pouring in, hundreds and hundreds within hours of it going up. The rage and sorrow and frustration were so fierce, so desperate, that all of us were seeking some kind of words, any words at all that could give them a voice. Many of those words, I believe, are found in this poem.

There is no cure, no comfort no, forgiveness to be found in the face of such cruelty and injustice. But there is strength. And unity. And a refusal to be silent. Our words are the light by which we find each other, which we use to expose lies and hypocrisy. There are no simple lessons when The Law is so twisted, so backward, so inside out that it appears to alter the very Laws of Physics. But one can only hope that some day such lessons as this will no longer be necessary.


In physics, thermal radiation by dark objects or bodies 
can be measured as blackbody radiation. 
The term “blackbody radiation” describes an object that 
radiates internally at the same temperature as it’s environment. 

Kevlar and steel badge make you more frigid;
you… don’t radiate at the same temperature as the bodies
you are sworn to protect.
Your temperature, a degree below inhumane,
too low to understand brilliant black bodies in Ferguson
or to see that Mike was not a black hole in search to consume six more.

Blackbody radiation emits light, though it appears black,
as most of the energy cannot be perceived by the human eye.
You, were too “human” to see his
             black body,
All naive adrenaline.
His imperfections outshining his future emanating inside.
In nature, no blackbody is perfect. 
              body is perfect.
Insulated enclosures contain blackbody radiation
only emitting a light when a hole is made in its wall.
Big Mike was a large body.
6’4”, 300 lbs of energy they never trained you
to harness,
would need way more than one hole in him
to see all the shine within.

Why is it our black bodies never seem to stay enclosed 
The bright-blue burning in our bosom
blackened by bright blue flashing lights.
We have been forced to not reflect,
just absorb bullets and beatings.
For centuries, we have been trying to gleam bright enough for laws 
to know we are more than dark unknown boiling to be incandescent.

We marched with the logic 
the more black bodies, the more glow.
Boycotted as if taking away our light
would show you how dark this world is without us.
Our riots weren’t violent; they were ultra-violet.
But here we are still just embers after gun smoke.

Some scientists say blackbody radiation doesn’t exist;
But Michael was another star plucked from the darkness,
and Ferguson is more luminous than ever,
blazing bright with piercing protests and bodies so sick of swallowing abuse
that they’ve become volcanic.

that action will always have reaction;
light will always have refraction.
And beware of what you beam at black bodies,
you may not be prepared for what beams back!

About Douglas Powell (Roscoe Burnems)

2014 National Poetry Slam Champion, poet, teaching artist, and father. For info, books, albums, and/or booking go to www.roscoeb.webs.com View all posts by Douglas Powell (Roscoe Burnems)

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