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's poems have appeared in many journals, most recently in Okay Donkey, One, and JAMA. He received an NEA Poetry Fellowship a number of years ago, and his debut poetry collection, Bulletproof, was published in 2019 by Jacar Press. Matthew is a high school librarian in Urbana, Illinois where he lives with his partner. They have two adult sons. Read other articles by Matthew, or visit Matthew's website.