Kangsen Feka Wakai Can't Breathe

I Can’t Breathe

I can’t breathe because I watched the news and saw myself, crawling on a pot-holed filled street from Monrovia to Conakry by way of Freetown. I am the other.  I named my last born Ebola, but I still can’t breathe.  

I am Eric, Mike and Tamir.  My grandma calls me Amadou, and my friends Trayvon. I inhabit your dreams.  I am the night to your day.  The bad to your good, and the cry to your laughter.  So I laugh to breath. I laugh to let the air swim in, but I feel an arm grabbing me.  I am humid like a New Orleans summer night.  I gasp.  Grasping for the Bayou's wind, yet I can't breathe.

Yemoya, abeg o!

I see you.  I see her.  I see him.  I see them but I barely see myself in the cracked mirror on the pavement.  I can’t breathe.

Sir, I just can’t breathe.  

So I drift above like air on a Chicago Fall morning. I hug the clouds, spit out rain, shine like the sun, then I see myself lying on a concrete pavement. I smell the powder.  I dive to the pile of spent shells. I hear the chorus humming.  I am asleep but still can’t breathe.  

Kwifon, you fit see me so?

I sleepwalk through Heathrow, De Gaulle and O’Hare in a layer of soot, which all can see but me.  I can’t breathe.

I smoke a joint for Fela, but still can’t breathe.  I chew khat and read Achebe, but still can’t breathe.  I shave my locks for Madiba…I try to resurrect Sankara…I say a prayer in Lingala.  I can’t breathe, so I am booking my next trip alongside Sun Ra.

Kangsen Feka Wakai

You are here