Volume Four, Issue 3

Be still, don’t breathe

Aaron P. Meadows

When the soil suffocates a man’s esophagus,
while even knees grind his cervical vertebra,
and thus thoracic cage yields the lungs no quarter;
then wrested free if only shackled arms could be.
That even ripping hands apart from wrists a must,
sinew splaying out the pain burns like magma.
Minus hesitation take nubs, now unfettered,
he mashes wrists upon the ground, pain renewing,
to spite the knee’s encumbering weight as Atlas,
decompressing lungs to breathe regardless of the
unbending knee by feigned justice presses harder.
     You’re under arrest.
Every fibrous muscle you must unwind,
becoming flaccid under cops’ knee’s mortal threat.
Imagine transportation toward somewhere else.
Swim along the glint embossing each wave’s ebb
that crashes crystal sand beneath mountains. You find
the arching juts of stone a columned gate is kept
a paradisical place for terrestrials.
Spearing water your fingers interlock a web.
While cupping water no resistance can be found.
Frantic all extremities hurry their attempt.
All the while you do nothing but begin to fall
     as you do in dreams.
The surface slowly rises to your eye-level
as you witness gated mountains parting open.
A wild gale that pirouettes across the sea
taunts of bountiful air while you slowly sink.
The glimmer of the sun fleeing from this whirlpool,
in which you find that up or down are neither known.
“If I’m still then I will float most assuredly.”
Pulling every spinous process of your back,
you arch your head to find a place you can’t recall.
Into whatever angle spinal arch you bend
thwarted by convulsions involuntarily.
     Be still or strangled.
Veiled are serpents all around whose unyielding grasp
constrict around you tighter each jerking spasm.
The desolation when the limbo between life
and death, a line within unconsciousness obscure,
becomes the only choice to gulp the air in gasps.
As the hunter on the prey imputes the foul claim
that silent endurance should be the mode of grief
when choked, maimed, or beat your silence ought to be pure,
that asphyxiation up to its mortal cusp,
be limp lest you exhibit antagonism.
“Criminals through guile feign pain to loosen cuffs.”
Yet the dead can’t prove their innocence; that is sure.
     You’re under arrest.
So when the hooded executioner appeared
and brought his axe down from his head to manifest
accepted form of justice known as severed heads,
then thirst that lingers still upon the crowd he swings,
or a child under blanket safety softly encumbered,
windows fragile and doors that can be picked they rest.
Though criminals lurk the streets police patrol red
and blue in bulletproof cars and vests often bring
through rams, flashbangs, and guns unholstered rooms are cleared,
often chasing warrants but they don’t suspect,
instead of thugs there is a little girl in bed.
To keep your life you must remember just one thing
     Be still and don’t breathe.

Aaron P. Meadows: "I am a postgraduate student in China studying Acupuncture. I also teach English to pay for my tuition. Feeling isolated from America due to the current pandemic, I felt motivated to do something about police brutality--this is what I did."

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