Claudine Michel Can't Breathe

 

Lady Liberty

          for Eric Garner on the other side

Lady Liberty

I cannot breathe          

I cannot breathe

          I cannot breathe

silence

          more silence   

   

 

Lady Liberty

we cannot breathe

America cannot breathe

because HE cannot breathe

 

Old roman goddess Libertas

what has happened to

tabula ansata your tablet evoking the law

what of your torch that should enlighten

as some of us try to breathe

 

do you still stand for Liberty

or is it that Justice & Freedom

for young black men & youth

have long been buried  

perhaps since Emmett Till

 

as America cannot breathe

as we cannot breathe

as someone’s breath can literally be taken away

 

should we tear down Lady Liberty

should we take down that graven statue

now meaningless symbol

 

as someone’s breath is literally taken away

as all

watch

          march

          & marshal

the energy

          to breathe life

and restore ideals

 

so we may

some day

breathe

again

 

Claudine Michel (12/3/14)

 

 

Nigger Child in Ferguson

For Michael

 

Mrs Brown Mr. Brown

I am sorry for your loss

wilson has a clear conscience

 

Mrs Brown Mr. Brown

I am sorry for your loss the lawyer says

the court has spoken

 

Mrs Brown Mr. Brown

I am sorry for your loss the country shouts

the police rules

 

Mr. Brown Mrs Brown

a young black body you should know

is a huge bag of rotten potatoes

to be tossed

 

I am sorry for your loss, the lawyer says

wilson has a clear conscience

 

wilson has a clear conscience

and America offers blessings

on Thanksgiving day

celebrating the genocide

of native americans

trashing brown bodies

 

then

now

 

we are sorry for your loss

Mrs Brown Mr Brown

          wilson has a clear conscience

& we are one people

DIVIDED

 

Claudine Michel (Thanksgiving day, 2014).

 

Claudine Michel is Professor of Black Studies and Assistant Vice-Chancellor for Student Academic Programs at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is also the Editor of the Journal of Haitian Studies and a former president of the Haitian Studies Association.

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