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breonna taylor’s final rest (or, the furies are still activists)

by Evie Shockley

maybe it’s your worst nightmare :: a thundering knock

on the door—or no knock, just the lightning-crack

of wood giving way against its nature. maybe you’ve

never dreamed of such force being used against

you. in your home. in your bed. you are cocooned,

your heartbeat slow. the darkness is part of what

makes you feel safe :: the rest is cotton and flesh—

your lover’s—and the peace you’ve earned tracking

folks’ emergencies, back and forth, all damn day. you

remove your uniform, expect to sleep well. instead,

baby, it’s your worst nightmare. the thundering knock

of your heart, beating slower. darkness. is part of what

makes us so furious the fact that the same bloody

forces that blue your black life to shreds are still free

to deliver their next bouquet of violents? breonna, rest

assured, tisiphone will help us hunt your justice down.


Evie Shockley is a poet and scholar. Her most recent poetry collections are the new black (Wesleyan, 2011) and semiautomatic (Wesleyan, 2017); both won the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and the latter was a finalist for the Pulitzer and LA Times Book Prizes. She has received the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, the Stephen Henderson Award, the Holmes National Poetry Prize, and fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and Cave Canem. Shockley is Professor of English at Rutgers University.


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