Survivor’s Guilt

dezireé a. brown | Poetry

Yesterday, I watched a Black

man walk

head-on into

incoming traffic

on Central. My frustration

flattened when I realized

that his eyes

were closed, lips

open, murmuring to himself as if

he was completely unaware

of the chaos

around him. Precious driftwood

in the center

of raging concrete


It was only three days

after Jordan

Neely was murdered by a man

with a handful of

rotten pennies. Black body

in distress: then,

blood magic.

then, long white arms

of death. this country

again swallows

Black rage ‒ its purest

ambrosia; its most

treasured commodity.

Of course I do not know

if these events

were related, but I could feel

his desperation

from inside the car:


outstretched, pleading

for the warm embrace

of metal in motion.

Too often we are told to stare

in the face

of our fears, only to be met

with a noose hanging

from frantic blue

eyes. I do not know

if Jordan’s absence was the source

of his anguish,

but how could it not be?

Tell me:

how could it not?