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Retirees Association

Nine Minutes, a poem by David Lee Garrison

In remembrance of George Floyd,
who died in police custody
on Memorial Day, 2020

The silver glint

of badge and handcuffs,

the knee of infinity.

A man pinned like a butterfly

inside a glass case,

his lips pressed down on asphalt,

his mouth bleeding

one last word,


“Relax,” the cop says.

Editor's note: This poem won the Johnson County Library open contest on the theme of Reflections on Race. Garrison’s poetry has appeared widely in journals and anthologies, and two poems from his book Sweeping the Cemetery were read by Garrison Keillor on his radio show, The Writer’s Almanac. The title poem from his Playing Bach in the DC Metro was featured by Poet Laureate Ted Kooser on his website, American Life in Poetry, and read on the BBC in London. His most recent book is Light in the River (Dos Madres Press). A professor emeritus of modern languages, Garrison is a member of the WSU Retiree Association. Johnson County Library in Northeast Kansas serves more than two milion people.