after killings (despair rains fire)
burning for muscle and unbending bone
for a man
(not guilty enough / not innocent enough)
pressed into the ungiving road / by the ungiving knee
of a man
(guilty enough / to believe his own innocence)

despair beats on desert hearts / hearts so dry rain brings no change
/ no hidden garden of secret hope blooms /
while scorpions and snakes blink weak eyes / blind

which man asked please ? which man called mama?
which man said brother? Which man said I can’t breathe?
over and over and over and over again

despair rains / fire storms in angry hearts

people trying to explain / he’s not moving man /
not moving/
people taking pictures / taking names /
women walking up to burley men / skinny girls scolding
folks trying
to believe a man could not keep kneeling
on the neck of another
till death do us part / and all the other phrases
that float like ghosts in the mind suffocated by violence

despair rains
as fire catches everything / reminds us to feel
/ feel how quickly we are lost /
yes / even strong hearts / quickly lost

carefully now / which man was dead / which dying
answer this —
how will the dead care for all the ones still living /

let anger thunder into / fire
let the guilty curl away like spent ash /
in the heat of innocence /

care / carefully / now
for all you love /
for all you hate /
yes /all /
also the hated / all

poem by Jo Mariner

Painting by Lesley Illingworth at and