For Eric and Erica
I can’t breathe, he said, eleven times.
His breath left in a last, choked exhale
Vanishing into the pollution of a
Dying afternoon in New York City.
The police, satisfied that they’d
Done their job, waited for seven minutes
For the medics.
It was just another day for them.
Three years later, his daughter lies dead.
She fought to keep his name alive,
And now she’s gone.
Weep for her, America!
Where are your tears?
People abducted, enslaved, freed, betrayed,
Live and die on your streets, America.
You kill your children every second.
You take them by the neck and squeeze them dry,
And fling them away, and order your sidewalks cleared.
And the rich sneer at the husks of humanity
On their streets, and brush off their dust
From their designer clothes,
Noses pinched, and mouths in a straight line.
And the middle-class, eager to emulate,
Scurry in their wake, buying cars and clothes
They cannot afford, mocking the poor.
And the poor spurn those who lie
Wretched, wasted on street-corners.
And you break their hearts,
You break their lives, America.
Are you not satisfied yet?
How many more choke-holds
Will satiate your breath-lust?
By Vijaya Sundaram
Born in India. Transplanted in the U.S. Musician and poet. Lover of this good earth.