Original submission by the author

Get your knee off my neck.
My life matters as much as yours do.
Give me my respect.

Took three of you to get me to the deck.
I cooperated. What I say is true.
Get your knee off my neck.

Yet here I am pressed with pee running fresh.
I never did anything to hurt you.
Give me my respect.

You heard me when I was short of breath.
My head is spinning and my lips are blue.
Get your knee off my neck.

Murder cases shouldn’t be so complex.
Eyewitness accounts and videos, too.
Give me my respect.

Eight minutes and forty-six seconds.
Mama, I’m through.
Get your knee off my neck.

Give me my respect.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

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Mesro Dhu Rafa'a

George Coles-El, better known as Mesro Dhu Rafa’a, is a contributing poet for Prison Journalism Project, who is also a writer and graffiti artist. When Mesro is not tutoring GED students and writing, he enjoys role-playing games such as “Dungeons and Dragons” and “Magic, The Gathering,” and writing science fiction and fantasy stories. During this pandemic, Mesro has completed an anthology of writings called Unsung Hero. Mesro Dhu Rafa’a is a pseudonym, which means “stand with the sun, master of the ascendants.” He is incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison in California.