Before Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson, before Eric Garner was choked to death in New York and before the #BlackLivesMatter movement had even begun, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell and countless other unarmed black men had been slain by police. Listen to Abriana Jetté’s haunting poem, which references the tragic deaths of Diallo, Bell and even Emmett Till, and read along below.

Abriana Jetté reads “Cycle.”


By Abriana Jetté

— For Amadou Diallo (1975-1999)

nine less than Sean Bell

seven years later and yet all things still the same same front stoop

same pebbles being kicked same stump same flag

same everything i said it because she said fifty bullets sounded

like one giant cloud of rain i say it sure sounds like justice being hung

from a tree in Money, Mississippi, like a reminder

don’t you try and live boy don’t you live (how does one live?)

your mother lived with an extra million for every forty one not guilty

rounds lived without a son to spoil

Abriana Jetté is the editor of “50 Whispers: Poems by Extraordinary Women,” which debuted at No. 1 in women’s poetry on Her poetry and nonfiction have been published in dozens of journals, including The Iron Horse Literary Review, River Teeth, The Moth, Poetry Quarterly and many others. She lives in Brooklyn, where she teaches for St. John’s University and the City University of New York. For more, please visit

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