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For the City That Nearly Broke Me

Knots like two dozen fists

sway with want from the boy’s

keffiyeh, that black & white scarf

with its useless hands clopping

against the wind in protest,

against this boy & his somebody

lost, against their own swaying

in a dance the lost body has lost.

A boy. A somebody lost. A body bodied

in the lights of inauguration night

when every light in the city flared

with hope. Always losing, always

a boy left with a dozen weights,

small circles on strings pulling

his head down to the ground.

Downcast. Drop your bucket here

& make the city yours and all

that jive keeps him from running.

Escaping the pavement, where

bodies finally fall to rest.

The keffiyeh keeps him from

bucking against the wind,

hurtling himself to the Grey-

hound or Amtrak or I-95

with a book bag & hitched finger.

His head shrouded in the black

& white, the knots keeping

his eyes down as he traverses

neighborhoods with names like Third

World, with names like a nation

falling. & the coffin-voiced

boy is who God tells us he will

save, & so those swinging knots

must be a kind of redemption,

a way to see the bullets that bury

you, constantly, as if death is

the disguise hiding your wings.

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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