protest sign

Writing Justice On Our Hearts

This past Sunday we gathered as a church community on zoom for a virtual coffee hour to process all that is happening in our country. Jean Dany, our poet in residence, offered a recitation on his haiku poem “No Room to Breathe” which you can listen to here.

Below is the text:

No Room to Breathe

America why?

With such abundance of wealth

But lack of justice


The grand jury speaks

Ferguson calls for the guards

Black folks are concerned


The news is all out

The cop is free to move on

I weep in silence


Protests erupt all over

Come on Lord, why this again?

A bitter verdict!


Black lives matter too

What do we tell the children?

Is that justice?


What were you thinking?

My lawyer friend says

That’s the way it is


There was Rodney King

And also Trayvon Martin

Then Eric Gardner


No justice no peace

It ain’t our nation’s first

It’s a mad disease


Here is the struggle

My hands are up please don’t shoot

I can’t trust no more


They care for their kind

That’s the way the game is played

It ain’t racism


No justice no peace

One more protest is scheduled

Blacks are humans too


My son asks again

How did I do at his age?

My fear chucks my words


This divided line

Isolates folks on both sides

Blacks and Whites equal


I’ve seen enough tears

And suffering on faces

How far can this go?


Stop shifting the blame

Some say blacks too are racist

Let’s just get along


You can’t kill them all

Memories don’t just vanish

Justice is the way


But make no mistake

Even the sun needs a break

This too will soon stop


Power comes and goes

And its wheels for sure do spin

Time doesn’t matter


Some truly don’t know

But comfort in the system

Does silence many


Wake up God’s people

Yes for sure, that day will come

For equality


Yes, we do have laws

I wish everyone could know

They don’t work for all


Lord that pain again

Is it rage or repression?

Please tame my anger


Amen? Amen. He has invited us into this spiritual practice of writing poetry, to be co-creators of this art demanding justice, full of love, anger, and grief. Below is a sampling of what some members of First Church in Cambridge have shared so far:

Sorrow beyond words

The breath taken from our souls

Waiting for justice


Freedom is water

Fish of the deep do not see

The cyclone above

Darkness falls with rage

Pain so deep and so searing

Smoke rises to God


I cannot breathe now.

I am oppressed like George Floyd.

Dear God help me breathe.


A public lynching

Launches a wave of protest

To insist on change

This is just a sample of what is to come. The invitation is extended. Will you join us?

Submissions of haikus can be made by using the Contact Us page or by emailing us directly at

How was this experience of writing for you?