Old Photos

Due to the many horrific killings in our country recently, I have seen a lot of funeral programs and photos of deceased people highlighted in the media. It occurred to me that really old photos are always used. This seemed odd. Then I thought “well what else can they use since there can’t be any new photos?” The poem was born.  The idea that a parent would never again be able to capture their child sitting in the kitchen or relaxing on the front porch is a chilling reality for so many in these United States. The extreme sadness of this echoes the disintegration of the American soul. The form gives color to the repetitive nature of these occurrences… Even now in 2022.

For Ahmaud Arbery . . .

. . . Brionna Taylor, George Floyd, Jordan Davis, Eric Garner, Cynthia Graham Hurd, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Rev. Dr. Daniel Simmons, Sr., Ethel Lee Lance, Rev. Sharonda Ann Coleman-Singleton, Susie J. Jackson, Tywanza Sanders, Myra Thompson, Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, Gynnya McMillen, Walter Scott, Donovan Lewis, Amir Locke, Fanta Bility . . .

A fresh death no matter what I do.
Chased up, then a cold Georgia shootdown.
There will be no new photos of you.

Men and bullets split our time in two:
Before and after your run in that town.
A fresh death no matter what I do

In good ole Georgia, these cowardly two
called you outta your name; followed you ‘round.
There will be no new photos of you.

Again. Again. Stillness governs our view.
One mother now wears a mourner’s crown.
A fresh death no matter what I do.

Ceremonies go long; life’s now a different hue.
A still smile flashes in skin deep brown.
There will be no new photos of you.

There will be no new photos of you.
Not your voice; not nary a sound.
A fresh death no matter what I do.
There will be no new photos of you.

Yvette R. Murray is an award-winning poet and writer. She has been published in Emrys Journal, A Gathering Together, litmosphere, and elsewhere. She is the 2022 Susan Laughter Meyers Poetry Fellow, a 2022 Watering Hole Fellow, a 2021 Best New Poet selection, and a Pushcart Prize nominee. Find her on Twitter @MissYvettewrites.



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