Breathe | Two Poems

I do not have a guest post today. Instead, I offer two poems written [by Toi Derricotte and Ross Gay] in response to the murders of George Floyd and Eric Garner. Both men uttered the words, “I can’t breathe” before they died at the hands [or feet] of police officers.

Why I Don’t Write About George Floyd [2020]
Toi Derricotte

Because there is too much to say
Because I have nothing to say
Because I don’t know what to say
Because everything has been said
Because it hurts too much to say
What can I say what can I say
Something is stuck in my throat
Something is stuck like an apple
Something is stuck like a knife
Something is stuffed like a foot
Something is stuffed like a body

***     ***     ***

A Small Needful Fact [2015]
Ross Gay

Is that Eric Garner worked
for some time for the Parks and Rec.
Horticultural Department, which means,
perhaps, that with his very large hands,
perhaps, in all likelihood,
he put gently into the earth
some plants which, most likely,
some of them, in all likelihood,
continue to grow, continue
to do what such plants do, like house
and feed small and necessary creatures,
like being pleasant to touch and smell,
like converting sunlight
into food, like making it easier
for us to breathe.


About the image: I shot [and edited] the photo above about 5 years ago while on one of my campus photo walks. A few days after George Floyd’s murder the photo “resurfaced” while I was looking through my archives for a different photograph.

13 thoughts on “Breathe | Two Poems

  1. rts - Facing the Challenges of Mental Health says:

    As a Canadian I was horrified to watch the video of George Floyd.
    I am old to remember seeing the smoke of the fires in Detroit, Michigan back in 1968. I didn’t understand why it was happening. But the smoke rising has always stuck with me.
    The racism among authorities has to be cleansed. How many more young Black Men have to die because of it?
    I pray for America!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. ourlittleredhouseblog says:

    I love your photo Chandra and these two poems are so touching. They both hit you right in your heart with their words. The first one is so true with not being able to find those words to speak when shock and tragedies happen and the other is such a gentle reminder that where ever we step, where ever we go, we all leave our marks. We should only leave those marks that bring peace and love to all other creatures. Leave this planet better then when you were here…I heard this quote somewhere once but I can’t remember where. I know I am writing it wrong but you understand what I am trying to say here. You and your family stay safe out there and God Bless you all.

    Liked by 1 person

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