Journalism In Verse

Davern Wright and Jenna Spagnolo perform "Cops Shamed But Not Ashamed" on Sept. 17, 2016 at B4BEL4B Gallery.

BREAKING: Cops Shamed But Not Ashamed

in World by

Reporter: This is the story that everybody has been talking about. Today we interview a poet about recent developments with the young woman at the center of a major California police scandal. Poet, can you give us some background on the situation with Celeste Guap?


Scandal she’s in the middle
California teen at the center between the bodies in the middle
Of the recall effort of the suicide of the firing
In rehab for heroin
But she can’t remember
She blacks out when angry
She slipped out of handcuffs
Thin wrists still trapped in the back of the cop car so she banged her head against the window until placed in a different car.
Rehab was paid for by the city:
Richmond, California drove her to the airport
In the middle
of an active investigation.
The girl who downed police chiefs.
The main witness missing.
Once released,
Celeste Guap was pronounced dead by her lawyer:
She’s going by her legal name now and suing for 66 million dollars.

Reporter: What are the police under investigation for?


Since she was underage
Since it started in the
Back of a police car
17 years old all fours
All tens all twenties all teens
All twenties all paid
Pound it
Two fists together and five hundred dollars
Five hundred dollars and two fists together
The center of power at his navel
His hair the lurking look in his red eyes the glare in his mouth. His power
like gum during homeroom
Something chewed up
Something she can’t swallow
Too soggy and
It’s on her notebook among the stickers
And her locker
In her high school
And the jog of—
Since she was 12 years old
The flash of the—
Bolt in her mouth
In her flashy jeans
In the mall as a
Teenager buying
Underwear with cops’
Buying the back of a cop
Buying the glare of his tongue the metal on his side the bullet in his voice the metal on her wrists the glare
Of his tongue the metal on his side the bullet
In his voice the handcuffs she slipped out of in Florida. Thin wrists and gawkers in the news
The scandal and the girl
The sex and the men and the
Rape and the girl and the
State on top of the girl
The state of top of the girl!
The price of the underwear
The girl
The price of the underwear
The girl
The cologne and hair and weight of him in the back of a police car where it lands on her.

Reporter: Poet, do we know the scope of the scandal? How many police officers were involved?


Celeste Guap in the arms of cops
In the teeth of
In the arms of lieutenants
dozens of
San Francisco, Richmond, Oakland, Stockton, Livermore
Celeste Guap human
With guns security guards
With guns security guards
Not safe but secure—

Reporter: Have there been any major developments in how local police departments will handle human trafficking cases like Celeste Guap’s?


There in the shuddering state
Nightly earthquakes and hands searching
California where the little girls grow
With the poppies and almond eyes
Where the girls go on Greyhounds to the gulch
A girl on the sidewalk looking at cars
Headlights and trafficked
Where men make money and
Pound it
Where men make money and
Pound it
Where the whole state shakes with nightly earthquakes.

The child of a journalist, Jenna Spagnolo knew they would be a writer at a young age. Jenna now regularly performs at open mics and works in journalism, digital marketing, video performance and podcasting. They are currently exhibiting work at film festivals around the country. They are one half of the brains behind Poets Reading the News. 

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