tmstringfellow Can't Breathe

for trayvon’s mother

we failed you                                 all of us
the day your boy died                    was murdered
i was holed up in a chi law library studying for midterms i barely noticed the news—black male dead—it wasn’t news to me i barely looked up from my Con law book my studying of the Constitution did not stop that bullet the Constitution itself did not stop that bullet your boy just a kid gunned down for simply wanting Skittles

in his own neighborhood

ishouldabeen there in that alley

what i can say is that your boy became a man in death he stood, fought a grown man with a loaded weapon pointed at his gorgeous head

i could not have done this
fought a relived civil war battle
fought it harder
you know, ma’am i have a brother         
same height same build
same fierce fight in him as Trayvon
my marrow prays every morning
don’t kill this black son don’t kill this black son not this one

ma’am, you think harriet tubman is listening?
think she cursing out God
demanding He send her back to save her sons?
maybe                 but i pray she is holding

your boy’s hand stretching out her other saying dis here our neighborhood


tmstringfellow (Tara Stringfellow) is an African American poet and an attorney living in Chicago, originally from both Memphis, Tennessee and Okinawa, Japan. Third World Press published her first collection of poetry entitled More than Dancing in 2008. Her other poetry can be found in Linden Avenue Literary Journal, decomp: a literary magazine, Voice and Vision: An African American Literary Magazine, Prompt, and North by Northwestern. She is currently an MFA Candidate in Creative Writing at Northwestern University.

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