Elegy for George Floyd

8 minutes: 46 seconds,
Slowly, painfully lying
Prone.

What happens between the seconds we’re respiring?
And if I couldn’t breathe for that long,
Would I know I was dying?

He said, “Please don’t kill me!” He knew.
George Floyd did. He knew he was fading.

Of Powerhorn, M.N.; of Houston, T.X.; of Avon Park, F.L.
Of where he’d been in this time, of my life wading
On Earth.
In this instance of a life
Being murdered before our eyes,
To lose one’s soul like that,
I toll a bell.

From my old age, standing at my precipice,
Mindful he was a boy,
And, oh, he cried for his mama to save his life.
I cried too, “George Floyd!”

“If you say his name, you must say them all.”
And I prayed and I did:
And we know who we are, the white asses
Not stepping to the plate,
Not saying their names,
Not putting away our guns,
Not imagining,
Jogging while black or going to school,
Or birding, vacationing, picnicking, or swimming in a pool,
Every day
While black
Not given to hate.

When I woke I saw George Floyd go limp.
In my day, snuff films didn’t exist.
Depraved-mind murder was a thing of the past.
Wasn’t it?
What was his name?
Oh, there were so many.

Dearest black people,
I am so ashamed of my race.
Liars we have been.

Chauvinistic cop aimed at his neck,
Kneeing to the entrance to his aspirations,
Because someone wanted their supremacy!

To not speak out at a time like this?
Witnessing this perfect unholy storm:
The dark fears of unemployment;
The dead of this pandemic;
And the igniting of our civil unrest.

I cannot sit silent anymore. I must get up
Though it pains me to tears to say “I was a racist too”
Scores of years, a long time ago to be sure.
Not the tattooed type of today’s …
Not the racists branded MAGA; but old and grey.
And only seemingly (on the outside) prim and proper
Of a generation past and still passing.

I will speak their names in shameful privacy.
I will look you in the eye and listen
And act towards you as my loving brother,
And pray for you as I pray for my sister.

George Floyd will not be forgotten in the change that will come
In this generation. Not mine but yours
For mine is hopelessly, tire-fully,
waiting to expire.

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