He Whispered for Water

(A Villanelle on the death of Eric Garner)

A man bleeds for mercy at the hands of fire,
a humble plea ascends from the concrete,
he whispered for water, but was tossed on the pyre.

The tax collectors came rabid and wired
like rats raging through the neighborhood street,
a man bleeds for mercy at the hands of fire.

Eric gasped with desert lungs that tired
from the choking of a breathless summer heat,
he whispered for water, but was tossed on the pyre.

The cry went up, but could not reach higher
than the hollow hearts of those cops on the beat,
a man bleeds for mercy at the hands of fire.

“I can’t breathe,” he wheezed as his life expired,
struck down to the earth, he fell to his feet,
he whispered for water, but was tossed on the pyre.

To breathe and live was Eric’s final desire,
but the flames didn’t shrink or cease to shriek,
a man bleeds for mercy at the hands of fire,
he whispered for water, but was tossed on the pyre.

Matthew J. Lawler is a poet and Chicago native. He has been published in numerous literary journals, including, The Miscreant, Sick Lit Magazine, Caravel, Visual Verse, Unlost, Tuck Magazine, People’s Tribune, forthcoming in an anthology( The Best Emerging Poets of Illinois) by Z Publishing. He lives to write and writes to live. You can find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/matthewjlawlerpoet

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