National Poetry Month Day 4: “For the City that Nearly Broke Me” by Reginald Dwayne Betts

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For the City that Nearly Broke Me

Listen for echoes.
Now bury what you lost
in the wind’s silence.
I want to name names but
what kind of remembrance is
syllables? Who wants more
obituaries? Just fold their
memories into the gust
of the hawk terrorizing
these January mornings.
Let me be without James,
without Black, without the boy
whose name I don’t know, but
whose face is the armor that cracks
as a bullet questions his place
on the Ave. They say the roar
of a tiger can be heard more
than a mile away; they say
a cell door can be heard closing
from any point within your
borders. I ask you to cover
my ears, to boulder the madness
the hurt doesn’t kill.

Reginald Dwayne Betts

A Cave Canem Fellow, Betts is an accomplished poet. He has won a Holden Fellowship, a scholarship to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and was a finalist for the Ruth Lily Fellowship. His first collection, Shahid Reads His Own Palm, won the Beatrice Hawley Award and was published by Alice James Books in May 2010.


Original poetry published by The Rumpus. More from this author →