#5 – While Watching the Music Video for “Only One” at Midnight, Kanye West Walks Into the Fog Holding His Daughter in His Arms and I Can See the Clouds Outside of My Window Parting Into Two Wings

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As we approach our 3rd anniversary on February 6th, we are counting down the top-ten most-read posts from the last year.
& there, gentle smoke cleaved by a small girl’s face
looking into the eyes of her father as if it is the first time &
the shape of her own eyes are a gift from a buried woman
& I realize this part of the performance is not for us
& maybe all life is the years being plucked from our arms
like rose petals & cast into the fields by some god
until we are nothing but alone & eager for the rain
& the mist that rises from it & carries our voices
to those who have survived the wreckage we left &
Kanye West is alone on the screen now & he is alone
in the rain & he is alone clutching the heavy air like he knows
that there is something living inside of it &
I know what it is to never actually be alone
I know what it is to think you are alone &
instead be in the arms of an entire family &
I hear my mother’s voice in the threatening
of the sky & the small silence that comes after lightning
pulls its bright dress over the dark of night &
this is something the wind cannot paint over
even as the clouds are split from each other
& pulled thin & high at their ends &
Kanye West is kneeling in the mud now
& his daughter’s small coat is falling from
her smaller shoulders & he is looking to the sky &
I guess it’s because the sky is where we are
told that the people we love go & the children
who do not know much of death understand
that the dead are everywhere & Kanye West’s
daughter looks with her grandmother’s eyes
down an endless road & finds all answers.


hi. you do not have to be angry anymore. I did not create any world other than your own. you can go outside again. home is wherever the grief washes off your hands with the most ease. love nothing that can’t fit into your smallest pockets, and I will always be with you. I am spread out in your shadow, even now. son. don’t forget how much of me there was before I was nothing. dying is hard when you have given birth to so much. a tree of roads that fork into a dark mouth. I am sorry. you were too small to lift me out of the sadness. son, you do not have to be afraid anymore. there is no city that is not my arms. I am everyone who loves you. when we leave we do not leave. we are not gone until we are gone. son, do not fear death. I am still here, waiting as you best remember me. tucked into the corners of your loudest laugh. the stain of light that pulls you back to the place where I looked upon you and loved you first. come back, son. I have made room for you. for only you, always.


Umi / it turns out that I am more than those who I have seen buried / isn’t that a miracle / it is midnight again / and all of my brothers / are not my brothers / not by anything rushing beneath our skin / or our skin itself / or the way our mouths curled up / in the darkest cavern of some bar / where everyone knows us / by the drinks we consume / but will never know us by our names / I call everyone I love my family / and no one has left me yet / isn’t that a miracle / on the walk home / I stole a handful of roses / fresh from the ground / and pushed them into my palms / until the thorn bit the soft edge of my finger / this is how I know you survive / to remind me / of things that should be taken / and things that should be left / I have your smile and nothing else / I am most you when I am wrecked with joy / isn’t that a miracle / I let the grass grow over your grave / until it ate your name / until the year of your dying was swallowed / until there was nothing left but the year you were made possible / which is the year I, too, was made possible / and isn’t that a miracle / even if you did not walk through a door / even if I waited for my phone to flash your name / to tremble loud on a table / with the arrival of your voice / this is how I remember you / as grass / as flowers / as anything pushing out of the earth / in the name of its own survival / I throw a handful of dirt into the wind / it blows back into my eyes / and, there / I feel it kiss my forehead.



About Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib

Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib is from Columbus, Ohio. He is a pushcart nominated poet, and the author of Sons Of Noah, a chapbook forthcoming from Tired Hearts Press in 2014. His poems have been featured in Radius, Vinyl, Freezeray, joINT, Borderline, and other journals that are far too kind. He thinks poems can save the world, but also just really wants to talk to you about music and sports. View all posts by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib

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