and still, we are trying — to dream

June 10, 2020

By: Amy Shimshon-Santo


now that I have done
what I’m supposed to do
written the mayor with the names
and badge numbers
of the assassins, tweeted
emailed, called, circulated
my opinion — prosecute
to the district attorney, the senator . . .


we are in mourning.


now that my son
and my daughter
have returned home
and no kkk officers
stopped them en route


now that the mayor
decided he’d better listen
and, no — it’s not enough
to just separate officers
from their employment
after performing the public
lynching of george floyd


now that derek chauvin
has been arrested for the murder
and I can’t-won’t-think ahead
that he’ll be let off anyway
like the racist beasts
who pummeled rodney king
a chain around his body


can I now say what is boiling inside me?


that I don’t want to write
another poem about murder
senseless, I already have
too many poems, about
how scared I am for the safety
of my son, my daughter


I cannot write any more poems
about country, police, or klan
assassination or violence
inequality, dead mote of democracy
or going high when they go low
or people dead in a car
or killed at their kitchen table
police are the biggest gang
this world has ever known
and they get paid, get
covered and respect
while our children, and loved ones
are still hanging from trees
except the tress are gone
and all the marching
the court cases, burnt
draft cards, movements
elections, running for office
organizing, buttons, boycotts
laws, studies, chants, reading
writing, songs, music, films
posters, the offerings
all the blood spilt, just comes
down to one mf’s knee bend
by a car, slowly suffocating
a human being
in front of the whole world
— and nothing!


where is the silence / the / stop             


the mourning, the sick-weary
feeling of disgust
that this place
this United States
is the sickest place on earth
and here we are
still, trying — to dream


by amy shimshon-santo


Listen to the audio version, recorded by amy santo's son: Avila Santo.


Thank you ArtPlace America for publishing my poem “and still, we are trying — to dream…” and for granting my wish to amplify three local arts s/heroes who use their creative ingenuity to support community flourishing. I encourage everyone to follow Honey and Smoke, Art Above Reality, and Greetings from South LA, and to invest in their important efforts.


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Amy Shimshon-Santo is a writer, educator, and urbanist who believes the arts and culture are powerful tools for personal and social transformation. Her interdisciplinary work connects the arts, education, and urban planning. She is the author of the poetry collection Even the Milky Way is Undocumented (Unsolicited Press), and the chapbook Endless Bowls of Sky (Placeholder Press Flashbulb). Connect with her at

You can find them on twitter at @amyshimshon and instagram at @shimshona


Honey and Smoke

Honey and Smoke was founded by Reva Santo as a travel blog in 2012, and is now Co-Directed by Santo and Eilen Itzel Mena. Honey and Smoke fosters community in physical and digital space, and directs resources for artists to create work about the important themes of our time. During the pandemic, they engaged artists around the theme Metamorphosis, and their current programming is called Bittersweet. They recently published the following letter to the public:

“We are in mourning. We are in rage. We cannot build upon a mountain whose base is decay. We cannot grow from infertile soil. Now more than ever we stand in our choice to hold space for artists to commune in prolonged, intentional meditation and dialogue. We will not be passive against Anti-Blackness. We choose to invest our time, our love, and our energy into Honey & Smoke because as artists and as organizers we believe deeply in the power of the arts to create momentous shifts in our culture and our society. We will continue to be in conversation and help facilitate dialogue with global movements because we know that in our unity we can imagine a more just world, and actively work towards creating it.”

Follow and invest in Honey and Smoke here:
Instagram: _honeyandsmoke_
Invest via Paypal: honeyansmoke [at]


Art Above Reality
Art Above Reality was founded by Badir McCleary, a freelance photo-journalist, art consultant, and curator. Art Above Reality, is an LA based art consulting firm that provides professional art services to individual artists and organizations. Previously, McCleary was the Co-Owner and Director of Gallery 38 that produced exhibitions for emerging artists of color in South Los Angeles. He educates artists and patrons about the growing cultural marketplace while simultaneously introducing underrepresented neighborhoods to fine art programming. Art Above Reality is an influencer that has diligently depicted the uprising through photography.

Follow and invest in Art Above Reality here: 
Social Media: @ArtAboveReality


Greetings from South LA
Karina Esperanza Yanez, is a multimedia artist and educator who has provided digital arts education for youth in South Los Angeles during the pandemic. Yanez founded Greetings From South LA, an arts-focused community resource for youth, educators, and families of South Los Angeles. Their mission is to promote, advocate, and foster experiences for the South LA community to participate in the arts and culture. Their vision is to inspire and cultivate future generations and local community leaders. 

Follow and invest in Greetings From South LA here:
Instagram: @greetingsfromsouthla