“Crazy” George by LC Gutierrez

2/28/2001, Baton Rouge, LA: George Patrick James, known by many as “Crazy George,”
was shot and killed after he allegedly threatened officers with a knife.
Name: George Patrick “Crazy George” James
Race: Black/African American   Age: 54   Gender: Male
(From a Public Accountability Chain Report)


George was a dapper, brown fella (statistic)
with a mustache and twirling umbrella (dementia)

Such a beautiful guy (person)
yet the lights in his eye (sights)

went out when you got too close (personal)
since George had swallowed a ghost (a mental illness) 

which wounded his soul and then hid it (head and his heart).
Though they said Vietnam was what did it (he’d been scarred by the war).

And when you tried to ask him about it (help or sympathize)
Ol’ George’s eyes would go clouded (would avert his eyes).

A Black dude in White college town (racist Baton Rouge)
he’d dance and wipe tables down (play the stooge)

and keep all the ashtrays clean (from getting tossed out)
in the bar where he set his own scene (if he watched his mouth).

Then George had enough of life (the torture)
so he picked up a dull butter knife (sure way to end it) 

made wild noises and crazy faces (and claimed his anguish)
to frighten the cocktail waitresses (call his demons home).

Next George found a trashed vacant lot (his resting place)
only fifty yards from a church (steps from his Momma’s house).

Now armed with his mom’s kitchen knife (he might have killed himself)
he sequestered an oak and a birch (but he knew he wouldn’t have to).

Arms flailing, sweet “Crazy” George (he became a “perp” and)
bug-eyed at the cops who yelled freeze (took aim).

Elegant, kind, broken, George (and doomed, he)
showed them all his white teeth (he wasn’t afraid).

They went round the trees for five laps (protocol)
while he called exhortations to death (they called for a back-up patrol), 

which arrived obliged by the cops (to witness his death)
through three perfect holes in his breath.

Photo: Bobby Cook



LC Gutierrez is a product of many places in the South and the Caribbean. An erstwhile academic, he now writes, teaches and plays trombone in Madrid, Spain. His work is published or forthcoming in Notre Dame Review, Hobart, Rogue Agent, Apricity and other wonderful journals.