Work Day: Lament for Darius Graves

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Darius GravesThe below poem was written by Ryan Collins for the project Lament for the Dead (, an online community poetry project which marks the death of every person killed by police this summer, and every police officer who loses life in the line of duty, with a poem.

Darius Graves was killed by Champaign police in Rantoul, IL on August 4, 2015. He lived in Jackson, Tennessee. He was the 693rd person killed this year by police in the United States according to the Guardian.

“Work Day”

We wake up some mornings & never fell
Asleep. We sleep for days sometimes
Without a dream.

Summer sweats out all the salts
December makes us forget we need.

We need so much & more always
Needed from us. Do more
With less. More hours in a day.

Too many days without dreaming & how
To know if we’re asleep.

We have & half & have to give more
Than our hunger allows.

We hunger only for restful sleep,
Only to dream & wake up
Without fearing what the day will ask.

The day asks more than it needs, more
Than anyone we know can

Deliver. We try to sleep through lunch
But the hunger wakes us. We do

What we can & the day seems to care
Less how much of ourselves

We give. Smoke them if you have them,
The day says. Sleep when
You’re dead. We are awake & trying

To take more out of our dreams to give
Our waking lives. None of it is

Enough. More & more, the day says.
Do more with less. So many

Nights & no sleep, no dreams to steel
Ourselves, hungry at work.
Never enough. The day always more

Hungry than we can allow
Ourselves to be. No matter how much

We take from our dreams, the day
Waits outside the door,
Hungry to take away more than

Anyone can afford in
One life, more than we can suffer to give.

Ryan Collins is the author of A New American Field Guide & Song Book (H_NGM_N Books, 2015), and the curator of the SPECTRA Poetry reading Series in Rock Island, IL, where he lives.

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