A Poem For George: ‘George The Given’

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 08: A mural of George Floyd that was painted in down town Atlanta by Dustin Emory in 2020 seen here on March 8, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin starts today as they begin to select the jury. Chauvin has been charged with killing George Floyd in 2020 while detaining him for use of a counterfeit $20 bill. (Photo by Megan Varner/Getty Images)

Brooklyn-based poet Jean-Pierre Marcel keeps a pen and paper next to his bed. He woke up last week with an idea for his next piece. “A few lines had come to my head and I thought, ‘I’ll jot those down,” he said. In less than 30 minutes, he had crafted a poem from his heart to honor the one year anniversary of George Floyd’s death.

“The words just kept kept flowing,” he said. “It was this out of body experience of just needing to put pen to paper as the words kept coming to me. When it was done, I couldn’t stop crying.”

The poem, dubbed George The Given, represents what was given and taken away from Floyd, his transcendence and the promise that his legacy holds for all of humanity. He hopes his words inspire others. Read Jean-Pierre’s poem below.

THIS VERSION
Poem by Jean-Pierre Marcel. Mural by Dustin Emory. Photo by Megan Varner.

George the Given

George – was given life—-
looking backwards from the glaring eyes
and siren lights
Rewinding fear
And death-
And blood, and tears

George – was given time—-
retreating through the shadow of sunlight
Reverse the clock-
can’t we, can we
Will we, won’t we ——and For???
stand, Stand, STAND, STAND!
or fall

King – was given pain
and animus to wear
to eat –
to breathe –
To BREATHE?? — till breathless

The songs of giant men, never gone
ring loudest,
sung by the souls
of the living

And US –
on a winding, weary path
from the towering specter
of inhumanity, to the ultimate-
transcendence of justice
we’re given – King *

Jean-Pierre Marcel is a New York-based poet and author whose latest book, Mezzanine is out now.

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