A Short Good Life

Must Act

Last time I was afraid to speak,
afraid to question,
afraid to act,
afraid of being shamed, outcast,
afraid to tell him to remove his knee,
knowing he’d only ignore me or laugh,
tell me I was a mere rookie,
I should watch and learn,
but there is no more time to waste.
I already know what I need to know.
I don’t want basic decency trained out of me.
I hear the next man on the ground pleading,
the next George Floyd,
his voice weakening.
I hear the bystanders objecting, taking out their phones.
Even if there are no bystanders,
I know what to do -
I turn and take him by the shoulders.
I push him over.
I stand between him and the black man -
Even if he takes out his weapon.
I can call for backup.
I must not freeze or go numb.
I cannot let this happen again.

Read more poems