As if things weren’t bad enough already
with us jobless and hungry, threat of ruin hanging over our heads
while our Great Leader does nothing,
locked in together like felons in a national jail
serving an interminable sentence
for nothing more than being vulnerable,
the damn cops killed a Black man. Again.
And it was finally just too fucking much for people to bear,
too fucking much death,
too fucking much brutality,
too fucking much anguish,
too fucking much fear.
Too. Fucking. Much.
So the streets are filled with the masked and marching,
braving the threat of one disease we cannot now stop
to obliterate one we can,
because to do anything else is to bend the neck
and bow the head to the claim
that some of you
are better than some of us
and deserve more air.
And the deaths are still rising,
rising like smoke from the crematoria
and the stench from the mass graves
and the wails of grief from the mourners still locked in our houses
rising in the streets like the shouted insistence that Black lives matter
and demands for justice
and warnings that without it there is no peace,
rising like the gas—again with the goddamn gas!—
burning eyes and throats and choking as sure as
a knee on the throat and lungs filled with fluid
and veins blocked with clots
until there is no difference
between the meanings of I can’t breathe.
‒June 8, 2020, Brooklyn
©Lee Kottner 2020