I Can Breathe (for George Floyd)

I Can Breathe

Of course I can.

I’m white.

I can breathe.

I can also bear

arms with impunity,

vote in absentia or

in person. I can shop

without eyes — electronic

or human — clocking my

every move, I’m innocent

until proven guilty, if then.

And I can run, metaphorically,

from trouble or laws I break

(by accident or on purpose). I can,

because my wallet and my whiteness

protect me. Separate but equal my ass.

I can also run, literally, shirtless and sweating

down the center of town, or through neighborhoods,

(wearing a hoodie in front of hooded, huddled masses)

and know cops are there to serve and protect me.

Because the only white flight is fear, so we arm

men in blue (and white men wearing white) to

disappear — by any means necessary — the boogie men

we imagine and invent, on TV and in our minds.

I can breathe and I can smell and I can taste and

this scent is the charred flesh of better angels (Naturally)

who never had a chance, and all of this is by design.

I can breathe and I can talk and I can read and I Can’t

Believe we’re here again, and Hell, I don’t even know

the half of it, being white and ill-equipped to fathom

the fury and fear that suffocates (symbolically, sure,

but also in real time, right before our eyes, in living colors).

I can breathe and I can kneel and I can protest and I can even cry

like a baby, knowing a pacifier called The System will always have my back.

I can breathe and I can listen and I can figure out What’s Going On.

But I can’t sleep and I won’t stop and I will vote and I must swear

that we shouldn’t rest until the experiment we started centuries ago

is better than half-baked for more than half of the millions amongst us

who would love nothing more to breathe and to be, but until we’re all kneeling

in peace and in power everyone has to stand, no more excuses. It’s not much,

I admit, but as someone with more skin in the game once said, there’s no

peace until there’s justice. So while I’d prefer to sing a happier song I’m going

to holler these truths until there’s enough air for all of us to breathe. Freely,

Finally.

05–30–20

Executive Director, 1455, @1455LitArts. Avoiding quiet desperation by any means necessary http://seanmurphy.net

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