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Feed My People (The Toxicology Prayer) by Cedric Tillman

Feed My People (The Toxicology Prayer)

by Cedric Tillman

published in RHINO (won 2nd prize in the 2021 Editor's Prize contest)

Father we come to you again because another dead black man is on the news. Lord I ask that by this time tomorrow we’ll find out he didn’t need money, that he had a regular job and not a side hustle, that you’ll close up the mouths of the reporters fixed on telling us he was broke. Make him worthy of mercy Lord, not one of these people selling burnt CDs or loose cigarettes outside the store, or passing potentially fake bills—Lord I pray he sold no death penalty weed, that he has no kids who could use the money. We ask that he doesn’t have asthma or COVID so the cause of death can be the officer’s knee, or the officer’s forearm, or the officer’s gun. Lord we ask there be no PCP or TCP or THC in his blood, Lord we bind TCB ‘cause we know anyone who’d put that in their head tends to end up being a threat. May no mention of Chicago without a mention of the Great Migration and redlining and contract housing formed against him prosper. Lord I pray he wasn’t too dark since it was nighttime, I pray he light as Steph Curry. I pray he followed the president on Twitter and played some kind of ball in college or high school—make it so Father, you know what they like. I pray the truth saves them money, that their lies are expensive. Lord I pray Breonna didn’t have a drink before bed lest they say it made her too sluggish to dodge bullets. They’ll say but for the alcohol she’d have answered the door, that any substance that can muffle telepathy could lead to muted magic. Lord I pray that if she was on Lisinopril or statins or birth control that she missed a couple days, make her clean in their sight. In his mug shot, may her boyfriend pass for someone the NRA deems worthy of the right to defend a home, may his piss test come back positive for living waters. Oh Lord, wash us white enough to be mourned. Suffer us the coping mechanisms. For you know how they absolve themselves. If there are traces of escape in our blood, they will say we got what we deserved.

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