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Elegy with a RIP Shirt Turning Into the Wind

Some days, away from me,

the air turns & I pray

pistols into my hands, as if

there is a peace that will open

up with bullets, with the blucka

blucka blucka of a hammer’s siren.

In the street, the boys play a game they call

throwback. It is football, every man

for himself as he weaves under

the wires above Mississippi

Avenue. The sneakers swinging

above his juking body like scythes

are fresh: Jordans, Air Force 1s & Chuck

Taylors singing death songs when

the wind blows hard enough.

Touchdowns are as rare as angels

& when the boy turns his body,

the RIP shirt slants against the wind,

& there is a moment when he is not

weighed down by gravity, when

he owns the moment before he crashes

into the other boys’ waiting arms & they

all look like a dozen mannequins,

controlled by the spinning sneaker

strings of the dead boys above them.

from Bastards of the Regan EraFind more by Reginald Dwayne Betts at the library

Copyright © 2015 Reginald Dwayne Betts
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Published in Poems Reginald Dwayne Betts

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