Best of the Net 2016  

Samaria Rice, Mother of Tamir

Can't live here. Can't live upright now. Just here,
he was. Too quiet, nothing bangs the screen door
or needs new shoes, nothing eats my cooking
or does homework at the kitchen table.
The sky closing, my daughter's mind collapsing
like her baby brother on that grass. Can't live

across the street from that gory field, can't look out
of windows just like the windows some idiot
watched Tamir play from, called in the hit. Can't bury
my son while they bury his case, bury justice
in loopholes and months of red tape. Can't bury the cop,
though I have in my mind many times. Can't deal
with walls, doors. Floors that are too damn clean
of 12-year-old sneaker prints. Can't deal with over there

and this never being over. The ground howls where he fell,
beckons me as his infant cries once did. Footage of his falling
loops on and on. Tamir, Walter Scott, Eric Garner,
Aiyana Stanley-Jones—didn't know murder could look like
wrestling, snuffing bugs or taking out the trash. Can't live

yards from the chalk outline near hopscotch grids.
My ears can't hold the cheery chirping of birds as if
nothing happened. Can't do it! Lord help me, my child
and mind shot. Always gasping, begging for breath.
Two-second discharge, bullet-fast oblivion. Police car
hearse-black. Why is my son not worth pause,
Miranda rights or any other protocol, a bad cop's day

in court? Can't have coffee across from the yawning
green mouth swilling his blood or boil eggs aside
that open, airy coffin. Broken hearts bound by yellow tape.
Done living at this address of can't, of never again,
of not sorry for our loss. Forward feels pointless;
let me live the whole truth now
that my family has been shattered. My head

on this homeless shelter pillow is honest—
there's no safe haven I could ever own.

- Kamilah Aisha Moon (from Connotation Press)