Things I thought when I watched
the cops arrest some boys for
stealing bikes on 55th street

By Theodore Richards

where his mother is
his father
& if they will cry when they see him in a cage

all the fuckery I engaged in when I was 15
& no one put me in handcuffs

& how it must hurt so much
for a soaking-wet-120-pound boy
to be slammed to the ground
& pinned
by 3 grown men

& how long that pain will endure
in mind
& in chemical reactions
embodied memories
long after the bruises have healed

how carefully manicured the church lawn is
backdrop to brutality
(jesus never comes out
to admonish the centurions)

of the cops
& their rage
& the absurdity of their work
in a world in which kids stealing bikes leads to
privatized state violence
& handcuffs
& guns drawn:
they must be so unhappy
must hear the black girl
hair in a bonnet
shout FUCK 12 as she drives past

of liberal hyde park,
its bought-and-paid-for-private police force.
they are thinking (they don’t shout):
why can’t they just be like obama?

but mostly, i think of my own daughter
standing next to me
& wonder what she makes of all this
if she sees police as potential protectors
or these boys as potential friends
& how hard it will be to move in a world
in which these contradictions are
embedded in her skin

About The Author

Theodore Richards is a poet, novelist, and religious philosopher. He has received degrees from various institutions, including the University of Chicago and The California Institute of Integral Studies. He is the author of numerous books, including Creatively Maladjusted: The Wisdom Education Movement Manifesto. His literary awards include the Independent Publisher Awards Gold Medal in religion and religious fiction and the Nautilus Book Awards Gold Medal. He has worked with youth on the south side of Chicago, the Bronx and Harlem, and in Oakland. He is the director and founder of the Chicago Wisdom Project and lives in Chicago with his wife and daughters. You can find more information on his website,


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