THE BLOG
12/04/2014 03:13 pm ET Updated Feb 03, 2015

Sentient Beings

Altay Suleymanovski via Getty Images

1)

The grand estate began to smolder
as the cleansing commenced.
Raging fires,
whose embers fade
more tragically than some,
seethe just beneath the underbelly.

penalized,
demonized,
dehumanized.

Crackling, clutching,
small and iridescent,
like tiny bird hands
clawing their way out,
in spite of the dramatic odds
against their survival,
embers that burn at night,
can be seen far and wide
until they are swept away
by the morning wind.

When the right conditions prevail,
embers can flourish,
igniting pockets of flames,
ashes to ashes,
some remain.

superhumanely,
bestial,
barbarian.

Seeping under the skin,
creeping into crevices;
melding into the fray,
I look at my own fleshy, white covering,
resigned that there are some things
I will never understand.

The walking wounded break their silence.
Lay me down by the river,
and wash my soul clean.

Michael Brown Jr. (1996-2014), teenage son of Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr., was shot and killed by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer while unarmed.

* * *

2)

The first breath,
is a lot like the last.
inhalation,
exhalation.

Locked in a serpent choke hold,
a prisoner on furlough,
crucified,
vilified,
soon to be released,
free from the chains that bind him.

rapid breath,
fish-out-of-water breath
gasping for air through-a-straw-breath,
rattle death breath.

A newborn's first cry,
is a lot like their last,
when breath can be no more.
The battle was brief,
the game rigged from the start.
You have nothing left to fight.

Eric Garner (1970-2014), husband of Esaw Garner and father to six children, died after being placed in an illegal chokehold by New York City police officers.

* * *

3)

In acting,
It's called a "beat,"
a natural pause.
Each story consists
of a beginning,
middle,
and end.
Even in two seconds,
there is a story to be told.

Prologue:
It was a crisp November day in Cleveland.
The sun peeked through the clouds,
illuminating a cornucopia of stunning, autumnal colors,
bathed in vibrant hues.
A child plays alone in the park.

What story shall a mother tell her black boy?
Do not walk alone,
Do not wear a hoodie,
Do not take your toy gun outside,
Do whatever they tell you.

Epilogue:
Light a candle for my son today.
For my child is your child,
You must not look away.

Tamir Rice (2002-2014), a son, brother, grandson, and nephew, was fatally shot by Cleveland, Ohio, police within two seconds of their arrival at a park where he'd been seen carrying a toy pellet gun. His favorite sport was basketball. He was 12.