Poem: Eight Minutes and Forty-six Seconds by Marie Cartier


I was in a funeral procession yesterday for a man I have never met.

George Floyd. A man who was killed by a police officer.

Mr. Floyd was black. The police officer is white and had his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck.

For eight minutes and forty-six seconds. A young woman filmed it.

And we, the world, watched it on YouTube and eventually everywhere

in the social media universe, where things go when they go viral.

Like a disease. Like an infection. Like something which must be cured.

We watched a black man plead for his life, for his mother, for breath.

A black man asking a white man to let him live.

What did the black man do? Try to cash a twenty-dollar bill that was counterfeit? Maybe

he did that. The white man, however, did kill him. We have the receipts. The white man did kill him

and the girl videotaped it and we have seen the video. And protests have blown up around the world.

And the white man has been charged with murder. And the black man—he is still dead.

This is where we’re at in these United States. Murder on video

of a black man by a white man. Over twenty dollars—maybe. Maybe over nothing because a white man has had the right, in his mind, to put his knee on a black man’s neck for over two hundred years.

Here we are in these United States trying to deal with that. Systemic racism, as in, it is in the system.

It is not just individuals. It’s the system in which we live.

Here we are.

It’s hard to watch the whole video

I don’t want to see an actual murder taking place.

And one of the worst things for me is when it was happening, the white male police officer has

his hand in his pocket.

Casual like. Casual like, I’m killing someone with my knee, and my hand is in my pocket.

The black man’s face is twisted towards the camera. He is on the pavement. He will at some point beg for his mother. And the white police office will keep his knee on his neck. And his hand in his pocket.

Black lives matter. Of course, they do, “all lives matter,” so they say.

And I, and so many others, say but it’s really all lives should matter, but

all lives don’t matter—as much, so black lives matter.

This is that time. Black lives matter.

Today. Black lives matter. So, maybe, someday, all lives will matter.

Eight minutes. Forty-six seconds. And a man can die whispering, “I can’t breathe.”

And if you are the one kneeling on his neck, and you don’t lift up your knee,

he won’t be able to breathe any longer.

And he will die.

Black lives matter. Black lives. Black.

I ask the Goddess of the Eternal Night to come to our aid in these United States.

Kali. Destroy us.

We want a new world. Goddess of the Transcendent Power of Time.

Kali. Purify us.

All lives should matter. All lives don’t matter. Goddess of Motherly Love.

Kali. Transform us.

We begin here:

Black Lives Matter.


–Marie Cartier
June 9, 2020
Long Beach, CA

Marie Cartier has a Ph.D. in Religion with an emphasis on Women and Religion from Claremont Graduate University.  She is the author of the critically acclaimed book Baby, You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology Before Stonewall (Routledge 2013). She is a senior lecturer in Gender and Women’s Studies and Queer Studies at California State University Northridge, and in Film Studies at Univ. of CA Irvine.

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6 replies

  1. Black lives do indeed matter. And so do all lives–white, brown, and every other color, plus the lives of animals and plants. Well, maybe not the life of the Orange Tyrannosaurus Rex currently occupying the White House.

    Thanks for this invocation to Kali. In 2016, when the T. Rex was braying about the “woman card,” I received a “woman card” in the mail. I tucked it behind Kali’s spear on a figure of her I have on one of my shelves. I guess we all need to call her more loudly now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well said.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Fearn, Thought you might like this! Love, Donna

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10


  4. Thank you, Marie, for helping keep this fire burning for as long as it needs to to eradicate this horrifying system, including the 13th amendment.


  5. Yes Kali – I sent her image to a grieving friend last week. When we remember her we remember the source, the beginning place and the primal mother who makes us all relative, and all of us relations. Black Lives Matter.
    Mitakuye Oyasin


  6. Marie, I cannot even read this – the image of a human being having the breath crushed out of him while people watched, filmed, whatever is simply beyond my comprehension – I find it terrifying –


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