I Can Breathe
Of course I can.
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,