Risë Kevalshar Collins


8  24  2019 
on a lightless night elijah
mcclain 23-year-old black 
masseur and violinist 

who plays for sheltered animals
listens to music hums walks home
from a store after buying tea 
anemic he wears an open- 

faced ski mask for warmth 911
brown caller thinks he looks weird  
suspicious 140 
pounds 5-foot-6 night in white 

aurora colorado black 
innocence guitarist walking 
sketchy unarmed not accused
of any crime denver blue line

where domestic terror foments
three achromatic officers
tackle elijah to ground 
chokehold him down in that special 

suite of white hell reserved for black 
men my name’s elijah mcclain
i can’t breathe please stop—they do not 
three depigmented law men 

two of whom are former u s a
marines randy roedema and 
nathan woodyard plus one jason 
rosenblatt cuff black elijah’s

hands behind his back i was just 
going home i’m an introvert 
i’m just different i have no gun 
i don’t do that stuff i don’t do 

any fighting i don’t kill flies 
i don’t eat meat forgive me he
vomits gasps for air i‘m sorry 
i wasn’t trying to do that 

i can’t breathe correctly 
this night sans light hushed white hot fascist
winds whirl alt right blood rushes swirls
blanched paramedic jeremy 

cooper takes lieutenant peter
cichuniec’s order injects 
slender elijah mcclain with
500 mg ketamine 

post heavy sedative dose
on his vomit elijah chokes 
heart attacks declared brain dead
pray tell how the hell did all three

body cams fall off during 
the arrest our best supremacists
three more on duty officers 
erica marrero jaron

jones and kyle dittrich arrive 
at the scene where elijah was stopped
they pose for selfies smile laugh joke 
they reenact the same chokehold 

used on elijah by righteous
sworn officers of law jason 
rosenblatt even sends ha-ha texts
mocks black elijah’s death 


blue passionfruit

in mirrors mama looks back at 
me i’m older than she was when 
she died in february my
head shaved for months years i wear black 

my soul in freefall through foothills
tall sahara roses fry in
triple digit may june heat i
wrestle pen to paper to purge

for black elijah mcclain whom
three white colorado cops and
two white paramedics slayed
cold ketamine injected

under a headlight moon indicted
for the death they mocked 
my stomach churns a sea tide turns 
far right far white storms forewarning

civil war looms smoking gun grey 
sky red mars black sun rising white
supremacy seeks to suppress 
the vote semi-welcoming war-

driven afghans as white border
boys beat back expel black haitians 
catastrophe-driven they’ve walked
apocalyptic miles dreamed post-

apocalyptic nightmares a
white idaho woman confessed
no masks were worn at her baby 
shower she caught covid gave 

birth on a ventilator they cut 
the baby out amid vaccine
hesitancy hoarding unhoused 
neighbors can’t quarantine friends need 

healthcare chemo nurses drag ass
to therapists we’re unhinged i 
leave food money notes blue kisses 
ruby orchids at their doors black

rickia young today received
two million dollars after she 
was pulled from her car and beaten
by lawless white lawmen sans love

in philadelphia though our
cars are dented swiped swastikaed
keyed we don’t call boise p d 
our olivia lone bear found 

drowned among thousands of amber
black girls gone missing i deep-seed
lily lotus amaryllis
visions of equal justice rise

i see mama’s eyes unflinching 
our voices ring i’m older than
she was in my late september
garden mama looks back at me 


Risë Kevalshar Collins is a writer living in Boise. She studies creative writing at Boise State University where she has served on the editorial staff of Idaho Review. Risë earned an MSW at University of Houston. She holds a BFA in Drama from Carnegie-Mellon University. Her poetry appears in ANMLY, The Indianapolis Review, Tupelo Quarterly, and Minnesota Review. Her creative nonfiction appears in Michigan Quarterly Review and is forthcoming in Texas Review. Rise’s fiction appears in The North American Review. You may read and/or listen to Risë read her poetry online in Tupelo Quarterly (“Decrescent Moon” and “Threnody”) and The Indianapolis Review (“Passion Flowers” and “Pauli”).