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


          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



          & marshal

the energy

          to breathe life

and restore ideals


so we may

some day




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





we are sorry for your loss

Mrs Brown Mr Brown

          wilson has a clear conscience

& we are one people



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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