How Much We Are Hated

[Content warning: violence, state violence, police killings of Black women]

Malissa William. Say her name.

One hundred thirty-seven shots.
That’s how much we are hated.
That’s how little our lives are valued.
One hundred thirty-seven shots.

That’s how much we are hated.
Malissa Williams was just collateral damage.
One hundred thirty-seven shots.
No one cared what happened to her.

Malissa Williams was collateral damage,
passenger in a chased car.
None of those thirteen cops cared what happened to her.
All they wanted was to shoot every one of their bullets.

A passenger in a chased car.
No questions asked, only guns fired.
All the cops wanted was to shoot every last bullet,
to kill Malissa and Timothy as dead as dead could be.

No questions asked, only shots fired.
One hundred thirty-seven shots
to kill two homeless people as dead as dead could be.
Because why not? Who would care?

One hundred thirty-seven shots.
ensuring the steady count backward to zero.
Because who would care? Who would care?
Malissa was the bonus kill, the two-for-one.

Thirteen cops added to that count back to zero.
Forty-nine shots from Michael Brelo alone.
Malissa was his bonus, his two-for-one.
Standing on the hood of their car, firing and firing and firing.

Forty-nine shots fired by Michael Brelo.
How many times do you need to kill the same two people?
Standing on the hood of their car, firing and firing and firing.
This is how much we are hated.

One hundred thirty-seven shots.


Pantoum — A poem of four-line stanzas in which the second and fourth lines of each stanza become the first and third lines of the next stanza. The final line can be a repeat of the first line of the poem.

Say Her Name — A movement calling attention to police violence against Black women, girls and femmes. Fill the void. Lift your voice. Say her name.


It’s National Poetry Month! Every April for almost the full life of this blog, I have taken on the challenge of writing a poem a day. A year or so in, I upped the ante ton the challenge and decided to choose a specific poetry form each year and write that form for the month — 30 tanka, 30 rhyme royals, etc. It’s been a hard slog most years, as I struggle mightily with writing poetry, with feeling “allowed” to try writing poetry. So why make it harder by adding onto the base 30/30 challenge? Well, that’s kind of who I am, isn’t it? I continue.

napomo 1

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