Poem-A-Day 2021, Day 20: E. R. Sanchez

When I curate the Poem-A-Day series, most of the time I schedule the poems into a calendar for April ahead of time. To some extent, the ordering is random; it often is a result of when the poets send their work to me. I try to sprinkle in the ancient or otherwise historical poets in at scattered intervals, and then there are some things I’m very intentional about: Shakespeare’s birthday, my kid’s birthday, my friend Christa’s birthday when she’s one of the featured poets in a given year. But much of it is a matter of chance.

Now and then I match a poem with something going on in the zeitgeist. And sometimes that synchronicity is just serendipitous — as in the case of tonight’s poem, which was scheduled for this date weeks ago.

My friends, one act of justice does not equal widespread justice. But it is a good first step toward accountability.

I offer you “Five Hundred And Twenty-Six Seconds” by E. R. Sanchez.

Five Hundred And Twenty-Six Seconds

Black lives matter because you can drive, Kenosha to Antioch,
enter Culver’s, order your ButterBurger Value Basket and a Concrete
Mixer with Ooey Gooey, Nuts, and Candy, kick back after
just enough Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese Sauce on your Crinkle Cut
Fries, pass out, then wake up to a knock at
the door; cops smile. “Can we ask you some questions?” (1)

Black lives matter because he can’t walk and hold his
eldest son’s birthday cake, play catch with his second boy.
A father will never kneel to help his youngest tie
his shoes for the first time, stand and stretch after
getting up from bed, or be judged as guiltless until
proven otherwise; treating humans justly is reserved for the privileged. (2)

Black lives matter because you can defy rules, expect no
one to enforce them while you Google bird types, so
you can tweet images, impressing followers with your love of
birdwatching; after seeing likes, you ponder, why did the birds
leave so soon? Next, you leash your dog, the one
that barked, making birds scatter; their instinct for surviving predators. (3)

Black lives matter because she can’t wake up tomorrow, can’t
clock in at the University of Louisville Health, can’t call
out for a family emergency. She’s still trying to solve
who is breaking down her front door, still yelling in
the hallway waiting for her answer, still lying alone behind
barricade tape, eternally wishing for an EMT to help her. (4)

Black lives matter because you can claim self-defense, privileged to
expect justice; jury agrees you stood your ground and deserve
acquittal because you couldn’t take losing a street fight, or
follow dispatcher’s directions to leave him alone. Now, you’re autographing
Skittles and Arizona Iced Teas for fawning fans wearing Confederate
flags, glorifying your hatred as if your actions were noble. (5)

Black lives matter because he can’t celebrate his eighteenth birthday,
see where his goals can take him, give his dad
a bear hug, send a Happy Mother’s Day card. He’s
still coming home—Skittles always on the ground. Arizona Iced
Tea never stops warming up—forever gasping, murdered for winning
a street fight. He will never sign his name again. (6)

Black lives matter because you can go to a construction
site, get a drink of water without being lynched by
vigilantes; retired cop, son, friend, watch their film, high five
each other, cheer for the gunshot as the human drops.
Police declare they’re innocent. When they experience the video going
viral, friend’s guilt becomes revealed truth, but remorse cannot revive. (7)

Black lives matter because they can’t exercise outdoors without worrying
if the next car, truck, van, cruiser, is filled with
thugs looking for an easy target. They can’t see their
son drink a protein shake after an exhausting run because
he’s still trying to avoid you, your threat, the gunshot.
His eyes see you smiling, endlessly living his twenty-fifth year. (8)

Black lives matter because Jewish German fathers don’t make headlines
for being killed by German police; today’s Germans don’t react
by protesting existing yellow stars; systemic anti-Semitism isn’t maintained by
administrations, education, or culture; Germany doesn’t struggle to evolve beyond
standing on others to feel superior. (46)


E. R. Sanchez earned a bachelor of arts in English and a minor in creative writing from San José State University. While attending SJSU, he was a 3-time National Poetry Slam semi-finalist before retiring from competition to focus on his senior year. Sanchez’s poetry and short stories have appeared in publications such as Poetry Super Highway, Writing Raw, Red Fez, Ray’s Road Review, Zouch, Zombie Logic Review, and Single Mother Magazine. Fried Potato Press is set to release his novel Petaco Dreams by the summer of 2021. 

Rest In Power, Chadwick Boseman

At the end of an already fairly grotesque week, the news that Chadwick Boseman has died at such a tragically young age hurts. To think he was struggling for so long with one of the most pernicious of diseases, cancer, without the public’s knowing of his physical pain and sacrifice, just goes to show how desperately important he and his work were to the world and just how ardently he honored our need for him.

Spend a few minutes watching this lovely tribute. All of the messages are so good.

Rest in power, king.

Action Dispels Anxiety

EDIT: I’m going to continue adding resources to this post so that everything can be found easily in one place. I will note on my Facebook author page and on Twitter when new items are added.

I really haven’t wanted to throw my voice out there so much this week. For one thing, my voice isn’t one that needs to be amplified right now. I want to be useful, though, and I do have an audience. So I should make something clear:

I categorically do not support the racist and fascist views of the current regime. I categorically do not support the racism entrenched in our country’s culture and daily workings, nor the genocide and other injustices this nation was founded upon. This past week has been brutal, and up until yesterday, each day was simply filled with more and more reasons to feel depressed and discouraged. To say I’ve been disheartened would be an understatement, except that I — like so many of us — have been feeling it for a long while now.

Edit, June 11th: I now also want to make extremely clear that I support equal rights for the entire LGBTQ+ community, that trans women are women, trans men are men, trans non-binary folk are non-binary, and these are not the only ways one can transcend the cis-het experience. There are many valid ways to exist in this world, and no one has the right to dictate these ways for people other than themselves. Moreover, all people who do not identify as cis-het still absolutely deserve to be treated with dignity and respect because they are people just like everyone else. And no matter how much I may have enjoyed a certain billionaire’s books when they came out, I absolutely do not support her boneheaded stance on this issue.


One way to diminish anxiety about The State Of Affairs (aka the garbage fire in our news feeds) is by taking action, as so many of us learned a few years ago. So here are some ways you can, if you choose, take positive action to help chip away at the awfulness around us and replace it with something better.

Be safe. Wear cloth coverings on your face in public. (I like these and these and these.) Amplify marginalized voices. Wash your hands. And pick one of the following things to do or read or understand better each day.

75 practical actions — a long list of practical actions (some of them very easy and some of them only a few minutes long) that you can take to participate in the pursuit of racial justice

Here are worthy organizations (which I lifted straight from Chuck Wendig’s blog today — Thanks, Chuck!) that you can donate to in support of those who need our positive attention:
links to support black trans organizations
The Audre Lorde Project
Black Lives Matter
National Bail Fund Network

non-exhaustive (but more than enough to get started) book lists — books in a variety of categories and genres to help you learn and understand more about what all this is about, as well as stories where Black characters are front and center

more book lists — a slew of books coming out soon by Black authors that you can pre-order now

If you like reading speculative fiction (such as science-fiction and fantasy), check out FIYAH, a quarterly magazine by and about Black people of the African diaspora. If you can’t afford a subscription, Chuck Wendig is doing a giveaway for subscriptions on his blog today (June 8).

Here is a list (likely not a full list, but what I could find so far) of Black-owned bookstores you can support. Buy books from them! Perhaps even the ones on the above linked lists!

And here is a link to another list of Black-owned independent bookstores — fifty of them!

If you aren’t already well-versed in understanding privilege or need an easy way to explain it to someone else, consider these two excellent videos.

And finally, coming soon, an eagerly anticipated podcast called “Other People’s Potato Salad” coming from two of my dear friends and colleagues, which is sure to be excellent. You can find them here on Instagram, so stay tuned!