this is not justice, this is respite

the first thing we could do was breathe,
together

a practitioner of breathlessness is guilty
(hallelujah hallelu!)
like, they said what we knew
(he looked surprised too)
that small alignment is so rare
it lays our contradictions bare

some hushing shout does move through the body as if (remember) we are one body but
it’s really chorus, we of so many minds
we feel so hollow
we feel such joy
we feel such rage
we feel our grief
we feel relief

all at once, in undulation
we cry out in celebration
and then catch a dissatisfied breath
this moment makes the moment we need possible but…but…

in the next breath world
he would be fathering right now
or high like the rest of us
inhaling aliveness, exhaling freedom
on a day that blended into a life
blessed to be unknown

in the next breath world
they would all be alive today
and the presence of that absence
casts a blur across the headline

it took so much burning of precincts, chaos, rage
screaming and defending and
terrifying the children and
combating every mistruth and
nauseous vulnerability and regret and pressure from so many precious lives already at risk
to get this guilty, guilty, guilty
we will praise up the collective tonight
we will lay gratitude for our warriors tonight
we will claim the hard-won territory tonight
tomorrow, we return to the fight

for even in our gasp of yes
with our need to grieve so desperate
we know
this is not justice

this is respite

for George Floyd: fire

have you learned nothing from sunsets
flaming the entire sky with soft edges
fuchsia periwinkle whisps,
taut and temporary nature taking day,
inhaling light

have you learned nothing from autumn
blazing the earth with gorgeous death
burnt orange kiss-red fragility reaching
last chance for the sky, floating, releasing,
exhaling life

have you learned nothing from war
inferno dappled muddy hose water, puddled
green edged flames of files, photos, losses
our battleground wherever you make us
defend life

have you learned nothing of justice
the deep ever changing heart must breathe
the fire in our veins needs oxygen,
do not unleash us if you don’t want to burn
we’ll keep choosing life

have you learned nothing of love
you on your knees but we the ones praying:
let us never give up on each other
even when grief is the only match for the pyre
we honor life

it is the end of a day, a season, a way, an era
the change is tumult, terrifying and beautiful
we will never be convinced to be expendable.
alchemize every death system, liberate
our divine lives


(photos via ny times)