Eight Minutes Forty-Six Seconds


Eight Minutes Forty-Six Seconds

Minute One.

I can’t breathe, man. Please.

The smoke of all twenty cigarettes in that pack

Wouldn’t choke the same way as his knee.

Non-violent, begging, mouth bleeding

With pleading words, granted code two non-emergency.


Minute Two.

Crowds are gathering.

A twenty dollar counterfeit.

How much is a human life worth?

Apparently less than a pack of smokes 

When the victim is black and the killer white.

I can’t breathe.

But it didn’t matter. Did he dig his knee in a little harder, I wonder?


Minute three.

I can’t breathe. Please, the knee in my neck. I can’t breath.

Code Three.

Finally an emergency.

But only because others can actually see.

Our country can see, George.


And we are in code three.


Minute Four.

“Get up and get in the car.”

I will. I can’t move.




Minute Five.

Sixteen times in five minutes.

He can’t fucking breathe.

Two videos.

A crowd.

That knee drained the motion from George’s body.

And soon he was gone.

Minute six.

Minute seven.

Minute eight.

Eight minutes and forty-six seconds.


I can breathe now.

But the country has only started to suffocate.


Minute Nine.

The country is on fire.

On fire with tragedy, hope, and rebellion.

The military won’t stop us.

The corona virus won’t stop us.

Systematic racism won’t stop us.

The president won’t stop us.

So let it burn.

Let your hearts burn with compassion, empathy, humanity.

Let justice burn with peace, legislation, and rightful action.

We don’t all understand, but we can all stand together

So that in minute ten,

We can all breathe, 



Hailey George has a writer’s heart and a passion for telling her tales.   She began her first novel at age 13 and has written every day since. She has published several articles in the Town Crier and Wellington the Magazine and three poetry chapbooks titled Beyond Words, The Emotionless Enigma, and Everything I Didn’t Say. She is currently working on three novels and two more chapbooks.