Upon Learning About Michael Slager’s Conviction


Our bodies are built for death.
I am talking now of Walter Scott,
a black man who was shot
in the back as he ran, unarmed. 

I am talking now of Walter Scott
and the police officer who shot him eight times
in the back as he ran, unarmed
from a routine traffic stop

and the police officer who shot him eight times
saying, I feared for my life.  Fear formed
from a routine traffic stop.  How was it fear
made him return to drop the taser at his side, 

saying, I feared for my life?  Fear formed
the decision to return to the scene of his crime
made him return to drop the taser at his side
pin his arms behind his back, cuff him.  As he died, 

the decision to return to the scene of his crime
unaware of the barber with his camera watching him
pin his arms behind his back, cuffing him as he died.
How do we know anything but how 

to exist unaware of the barber with his camera watching him
play God.  We who are not guns but weapons—
How do we know anything but how
our bodies are built for death.

Samantha Tetangco is a Filipino-American writer and teacher.  A multi-genre writer, her short stories, creative nonfiction, and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in dozens of literary magazines including The Sun, Zone 3, Gargoyle, Phoebe, Gertrude and others. She has an MFA from the University of New Mexico and is the Associate Director of Writing at the University of California Merced.  In her dailiness, Tetangco struggles with what it means to be a queer person of color who doesn’t often write about being a queer person of color.  More often, her work revolves around the multidue of places she's once lived and (often) still calls home, including the San Francisco Bay Area, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and California's Central Valley where she currently lives with her wife and their two dogs.  For more on Sam, visit https://samanthatetangco.ink.