Crucifixion and Death
Now is the hour of his parting,
such sweet sorrow, they say,
but not on this day.
Yet we’ll meet again, sang Vera Lynn,
don’t know where, don’t know when.
There he lies, helpless, on the street.
Why is that man in blue
kneeling on his neck?
“I can’t breathe.”
Can’t anyone hear his cries?
Is there anybody out there listening?
Watchers stand round and watch.
Someone makes a video on a cell phone.
Who gifted him this gift,
this parting gift he never chose.
Everyone who follows him
and tries to walk in his shoes
knows he had no choice.
They know he didn’t choose.
Do you feel the baton stab into the guts?
The plastic shield’s edge slash into the face?
The knee come up, no ifs, no buts?
Eyes water from tear gas and pepper spray.
Thunder flashes crack and roll, deafening
ears, taking years from marchers’ lives.
Did you follow him through Jerusalem?
Did you walk in his footsteps, step by step?
There is a green hill far away, or so they say.
The cameras rolled as they cuffed him
to his pavement cross, men in blue smiled,
winked at each other, watched him fade.
His loss was not their family’s loss.
Just another loser tossed beneath the bus.
The watchers watched and nobody made a fuss.
They stood and stared and nobody cared
until cell phone videos hit the tv screens.
Now it’s fake news, whatever that means.
The believers will believe what they’re told.
You can’t put a price on what he was losing,
on the many things that others have already lost.
Leg-irons and chains:
that’s what remains from his journey here.
Iron, cold iron, splintered, burning wood.
A death bed on the sidewalk
his last will and testament.
A flaming cross lifted him to the skies,
that cross burning before his eyes.
Before he goes, we must double-check:
whose is that knee upon his neck?
“Let me breathe, let me breathe.
Take away your knee.
Justice, why hast thou forsaken me?”
Commissioner, forgive them.
They didn’t know what they did,
when all around the dying man
men closed their eyes and ears,
buried their heads, and hid.
Good Friday in Island View:
a foot of snow fills the streets,
empties the churches.
The Easter Weekend lurches
towards its predestined end.
But how do you end
two thousand years of hurt,
four hundred years of persecution,
of cruelty and neglect?
How do you end
eight minutes and forty-six seconds,
with that black man lying there,
choking, a white man’s knee on his neck.
He died in the shade
of orders that were given and obeyed,
orders that should never have been made.