Poems for George Floyd

When I Think of Tamir Rice While Driving

in the backseat, my sons laugh & tussle,
far from Tamir’s age, adorned with his
complexion & cadence, & already warned

about toy pistols, though my rhetoric
ain’t about fear, but dislike—about
how guns have haunted me since I first gripped

a pistol; I think of Tamir, twice-blink
& confront my weeping’s inadequacy, how
some loss invents the geometry that baffles.

The Second Amendment—cold, cruel,
a constitutional violence, a ruthless
thing worrying me still, should be it predicts

the heft in my hand, arm sag, burdened by
what I bear: My bare arms collaged
with wings as if hope alone can bring

back a buried child. A child, a toy gun,
a blue shield’s rapid rapid rabid shit. This
is how misery sounds: my boys

playing in the backseat juxtaposed against
a twelve-year-old’s murder playing
in my head. My tongue cleaves to the roof

of my mouth, my right hand has forgotten.
This is the brick & mortar of the America
that murdered Tamir & may stalk the laughter

in my backseat. I am a father driving
his Black sons to school & the death
of a Black boy rides shotgun & this

could be a funeral procession, the death
a silent thing in the air, unmentioned—
because mentioning death invites taboo:

if you touch my sons the blood washed
away from the concrete must, at some
point, belong to you, & not just to you, to

the artifice of justice that is draped like a blue
g-d around your shoulders, the badge that
justifies the echo of the fired pistol; taboo:

the thing that says freedom is a murderer’s body
mangled & disrupted by my constitutional
rights come to burden, because the killer’s mind

refused the narrative of a brown child, his dignity,
his right to breathe, his actual fucking existence,
with all the crystalline brilliance I saw when

my boys first reached for me. This world best
invite more than story of the children bleeding
on crisp falls days, Tamir’s death must be more

than warning about recklessness & abandoned
justice & white terror’s ghost—& this is
why I hate it all, the protests & their counters,

the Civil Rights attorneys that stalk the bodies
of the murdered, this dance of ours that reduces
humanity to the dichotomy of the veil. We are

not permitted to articulate the reasons we might
yearn to see a man die. A mind may abandon
sanity. What if all I had stomach for was blood?

But history is no sieve & sanity is no elixir
& I am bound to be haunted by the strength
that lets Tamir’s father, mother, kinfolk resist

the temptation to turn everything they see
into a grave & make home the series of cells
that so many brothers already call their tomb.