Poetry by Charles Joseph

I Wonder If Elijah McClain Had A Future

I wonder if Elijah McClain had a future
Perhaps he’d grow out of his shell
From behind the mask, invite others into his own world

Or maybe not. Because I think he was perfect.
The way he was.
And the world thought so, too.

I wonder if Elijah McClain had a future
At 23, very much like me,
I wonder if he was formulating his big bad plan to take over the world
In the future.
As we all do, as we’re all doing, at that age.

I wonder if Elijah McClain was ever afraid
That maybe all his plans would come to nothing
All his deeds would go to waste
Because he wouldn’t finally arrive at his future; his 30s. And perhaps his 40s
I wonder if Elijah McClain was ever afraid
That he’d be killed on his path to his future
And that the world would bring no justice to that.

I wonder if Elijah McClain had a future
I wonder if he’d initiate a Massage Therapy non-profit
Open its doors to the local communities of the hard working people of Colorado
Who, perhaps, couldn’t afford a massage
But were in great need of one.
Free of charge.
Freeing them from their charge.

I wonder if he’d amount to being a world class guitar player
Maybe a highly sought-after violinist

I wonder if Elijah McClain would, one day, finally be offered the opportunity to perform on a world tour
But he’d kindly reject the offer
Because there are too many people in the audience
He’d rather stay behind his mask
Where he’s safe
Where it’s okay.

Or maybe he’d reject such prestigious offer for other reasons
Maybe Elijah McClain felt more comfortable performing in an animal shelter, where
Anxious cats and dogs who knew how to value him
Were his only audience.
Or maybe, perhaps, he’d reject this paramount offer because
He wanted to focus on one day starting a homeless shelter
Maybe a full-service therapy home
Because Lord knows Elijah McClain was put on Earth for the good deed of soothing our anxiety
Until he was taken away.

Black kids have the right to dream.
They have the right to achieve these dreams
And live a full life. Feeling accomplished.

I wonder if Elijah McClain had a future
I wonder if he foresaw himself growing up—like we all do.
Imagine himself becoming successful
With a stable job. Perhaps, a happy family, living in a nice neighborhood
With trees, gardens, clear skies
Because as a child in America, although Black, he has the right to that.

I wonder if he thought what happened to Emmett Till was not right
And that it didn’t matter that, years later, the lady apologized
Just like his.

You know, every little
Young Adult
We’re all Elijah McClain.



Elijah Jovan McClain (February 25, 1996 – August 30, 2019) was a 23-year-old black massage therapist from Aurora, Colorado, who died after being placed in a chokehold by police and being sedated by paramedics. On August 24, 2019, an Aurora citizen reported to police that McClain was wearing a ski mask and looked “sketchy”, although the caller also indicated that he did not believe anyone was in danger, and that he believed McClain was unarmed. The three police officers who were involved in the incident, Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt and Randy Roedema, said that their body cameras were knocked off during a struggle with McClain. McClain was forcibly held to the ground with his hands cuffed behind his back, after which an officer applied a chokehold and paramedics administered ketamine to McClain to sedate him. While being transported to the hospital McClain went into cardiac arrest. Three days after arriving at the hospital, he was declared brain dead, and was removed from life support on August 30. McClain’s autopsy was inconclusive.

3 responses to “I Wonder If Elijah McClain Had A Future”

  1. We ALL have so much more work to do 🖤🖤🖤

  2. Heartfelt poem, keep it up 👍

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