To Our Knees

(REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)

Air is not enough.
Nitrogen saves nobody,
while hardly any C02
might just kill us all.
I’ll think of that later.
Right now oxygen
is needed to fill
multitudes of empty
tanks, hosts of ravaged lungs.

Please. Please. Please.

What a strange/strangled
world we live in. I want
everyone who needs
food, bed, and breath
to have them—don’t you?
I cannot turn away
from one on her knees
who only needed oxygen
for her mother who she finds
out—by phone—has died
while she was forced
to stand in line and wait.

Matthew Murrey is the author of Bulletproof (Jacar Press, 2019) and the forthcoming collection, Little Joy (Cornerstone Press, 2026). Recent poems can be found in The Ekphrastic Review, Roanoke Review, ballast and elsewhere. He was a public school librarian for 21 years, and lives in Urbana, IL with his partner. His website is at . He can be found on Instagram, Twitter and Bluesky under the handle @mytwords. Read other articles by Matthew, or visit Matthew's website.