I Can’t Breathe©

This piece was written a year ago but I was prompted by Fandango to republish it today as I chose George Floyd for Who Won The Week prompt.


I CAN’T BREATHE
His voice reached back 401 years to the belly of slave ships
To summon fore-mamas and -papas
Black bodies snatched from homeland stacked up for export
Crammed in places too cramped for air
Constrained and pressed till urine leaked, undignified
Shackled and restrained from neck to feet
Black bodies stretched out beneath deck, unseen

Too dark to see
Too constrained to touch
Too dense to be heard
Too putrid to breathe in

I CAN’T BREATHE
His voice reached back 46 years to the belly of mamma
To summon the place he’s always felt protected
Invoking relief from the indignity of shackled wrists
Pinned under the knee-weight embodiment of bigotry and racist hatred
8 minutes:46 seconds
Breath. Of. Life … deliberately snuffed out, stolen
Black body stretched out for the world to view

Too riotous not to see
Too palpable not to touch
Too loud not to be heard
Too blatant not to breathe in

I CAN’T BREATHE
Ricocheted off sidewalks from cities and towns around the globe
Escaped the lips of mamas, papas, sistas, brothas of every age, color and creed
Galvanizing protests undaunted by a pandemic
Bodies of all races stretched out, collective voices shout
Demanding revolution, transformation, radical alteration

Too multi-ethnic not to see
Too seismic not to touch
Too forceful not to be heard
Too copious not to breathe in

I CAN’T BREATHE
Ignite change … too enormous not to see

I CAN’T BREATHE
Ignite change … too radical not to touch

I CAN’T BREATHE
Ignite change … too disruptive not to be heard

I CAN’T BREATHE
Ignite change … too transforming not to breathe in

Change.

So.

I.

Can.

BREATHE.


After-word: This piece was written June 4, 2020, a couple weeks after the murder of George Floyd. At first no words would come. The one thing that gets me through every crisis—my words—failed me. So I stayed silent, I listened within. I leaned into the discomfort, the angst, the anger, the upheavals of emotions. I allowed myself to grieve, to cry. I embraced the pain in the collective trauma being experienced simultaneously by brothas and sistahs across continents and in ‘hoods near and far from me. Then … when I was not just enraged but reenergized, when my soul found a measure of expressive peace, words returned and out flowed this piece.


Thanks you for reading!

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In creative solidarity, Dee

7 thoughts on “I Can’t Breathe©

  1. Pingback: A Look Back at 2020: 5 Lessons – createdbyDEEsign

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