*Sigh,* I need to take a breath by Dhruv Shejpaul



When tragedy struck 

We took a breath 

Quarantine in place 

The worlds internal flame was set ablaze 


The rituals of American society 

Burning gasoline until our lungs were filled with toxicity 


Out came a cleaner world, one where animals could live in greater peace 


Broken dreams, incomplete journeys 

Sent home, no more glory 

Mask on, mask off 

Starting to lose our identity in an isolated swan song 


After months, the truth popped 

Keepin’ us locked inside 

could not justify 

systemic genocide 


You gave people snuff for kneeling, said Kaepernick was too busy dreaming

And then all of a sudden 

We lost a person to your knee 

Asked for his mama and you forbade him to flee 


He could not breath 

A classic story of American Tyranny 

The officer, systemically an avatar for so much more 

Taking peoples lives out the door 


The streets 

Empty with fear 

Had now been filled with justice 

People fighting a system that had made many restless


Turn the camera onto me 

23 year old Brown Boy 

Remembering the times 

Cops pulled me over, walking while brown


Baton wielder looking me in the eye 

Losing my breath, unsure if I should let out a cry 

Asked how I could ever live in my neighborhood 

Thank God my Dad was in my house


They knocked, He told them I was his son 

And the officers were shocked 

Ready to sock me for being brown 

In a town that wasn’t ready to move beyond its confederate sound 


I was 17 then, to some a kid 

To others a threat 

I wasn’t ready to embrace the uncomfortable reality 

That I was an American, but also a part of the enemy 



Breath in, breath out 

Pranayama, find that inner spiritual cloud 

Turn around to see a world burning while you’re looking for a clearing


And I breathe and breathe and breathe 

Some inhale the nectar of breath while others suffocate from its lack

We’re a society on oxygen support, trying to save those that were damned

Fixing the architecture of God’s plan


An architecture designed for disaster 

We hold the pieces and reconstruct an after 

Not to be afterthoughts, but to create a new song 

A song sung through the labor of broken hearts 


Pandemic pandemic 

Our isolation was already the virus 

Already sick with a lack of connection 

Mesmerized by automated relations


There’s no antibiotic for this sickness 

There’s no magic pill 

Healing can only be brought through listening 

To hear the pain and loss in another’s heart


You can’t teach that through an exam or book

Its gotta be felt 

One on One 

Trying to be as present for the other as possible 


Witness each other through the passage of time

Outside of stethoscopes, let us truly know the breath

Let us feel each other need to be fed 

With love and a chance to break free of the loneliness 


A first and last breath 

This sigh signals something will bloom 

The seeds planted by revolutionary martyrdom

Will sprout anew 


Disaster is if a train is about to smash you 

But like 

If the train was small 

And could go right through your face 


And you have this beating heart 

It becomes constricted 

Ripping into 

Endless Despair 


Nothing can stop spinning, because nothing is in place

Pray to make sense of the day 

Find yourself tearing into past days 

Doing what if’s and what’s now 


Someone heal us now 

What’s the price of healing 

What are we feeling 

The future unknown but we keep the presence streaming 

Author Bio

Dhruv Shejpaul is a writer and facilitator that seeks to bring restorative justice into the world. Interested in the intersection of spiritual metacognitive psychoanalysis and scientific inquiry, catch Dhruv mixing Pedgaogy of the Oppressed and The Bhagavad Gita on a marxist spiritual analysis. Radical empathy is the only way forward. Dhruv holds an MS in Narrative Medicine from Columbia University and a BS from Penn State University. Find Dhruv on Instagram as @spiceislife48.  


#spokenword #restorativejustice #1moreperspective

Image Credit

Semblance Studios. instagram: @semblance_design