The following is a series of poems written in the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death. This event, like several before it, has brought the deeply ingrained racial tensions and injustices in American society – especially in its vulnerable urban areas – into light. In reacting to these events, Harold Recinos bears witness to the suffering experienced and gives testimony to the hope that sustains us – a hope rarely apparent in the media, but one that shines through in the hearts and minds of the afflicted, as well as those who draw closer to them in times of trouble.



Freddie Gray

the news the sidewalk bears
makes us dissolve in tears

for the shattered body of yet
another young man for whom

no gate in heaven opened when
flattened by senseless cops’

blows. the violent pain makes
us tremble in this other war on

city streets the authorities with
heavy breath all too easily flee.

beyond what the law has eyes to
see those who march the streets

remind us of the terrible screams
stating with long processions into

darkest night nothing is fixed by
another body laid to rest beneath

a bloody field of lilies.


we dragged this giant stone
from the graveyard that is now

addressed to you with fragments
of hundreds of destroyed hearts

no longer eager to say amen. among
those longing for these funerals to

end too many now say God does not
have pity for so many kids laid in

the ground for imperfect rest, still
others hope the killer cops who put

them under will not find Divinity’s
pity at all. we dragged this giant

stone passed every corner our dearly
departed knew believing they smiled

at us from the distance to place it
by the wall of the dead in a world

sunk with sin. look, do you hear the
mournful sounds of mothers who

became strangers to tenderness and
hope? Can you see the darkness

made of cold moving now in our


without applause we march
in the dark amid protest noise

loosened by heaven above seeking
justice below. in this nightmare

where the innocent stopped living,
we walk the streets carried by

a light inside that persuades us
with blessings of peace to find

in all this sorrow the pitched
light of a magnificently merciful

God. the evening vespers where
defiant prayers are loudly recited by

the faithful now in despair tell the
story of the city’s fall that will never

figure dimly or curve out of sight.
when morning breaks we will still

cry with palms raised in the air beside
those who have seen death already

in black and brown faces wearing closed
eyes and names the police in their darkest

hour never knew. through it all we
bear witness even in our sorrow to

God crucified and with us.

Harold Recinos is Professor of Church and Society at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University.