Air Floyd: A Ritardando*

(AKA “It’s Gotta Be The Shoes…”)

George Floyd.

The latest in a long
noose of names
to die in the street.

At the hands
and feet
of police.

Public asphyxiation
is nothing new,
but it has always drawn a crowd
even on Sundays down South.

he still couldn’t get a witness,
just an autopsy,
“on the house.”

A hundred years later,
same result.

His last meal,
all asphalt
no air.

His last song,
the ritardando of his pulse.

The last thing he ever saw was
a montage of his 46 years on this planet,
feels just like a flash.

Including unequivocal evidence that when it plays,
it never starts at the beginning
it always starts at the end
and plays backwards.

Why else would he cry for his mama?
How else would we find him lifeless,
in a fetal position?

In these Black ass streets,
wide berths built for a steady stream of hearses.
Where we have no choice but to keep it real,
because we don’t get afforded the privilege of rehearsals.

The stakes are high,
but for everyone else out here mistakes are fine.
And for the cops
mistakes are …
a fine.

It’s no place to die,
but if you drop to your knees.
Get on the ground.
Get in the ground.


face down, hands up,
chest to cement
and inhale,

you can still smell the wildest dreams
of little Black boys and their burnt rubber soles
begging Mom and Dad
for sneakers
that could fly.

And if you lie there long enough
you can still hear their laughter

* Ritardando (or rit.) in music indicates the gradual decrease in the tempo of a beat.

Hakim Bellamy is an author, actor, academician, musician, journalist, folk artist, father, community organizer, cultural ambassador and the inaugural poet laureate of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Find more at Read other articles by Hakim.