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By Aracelis Girmay

When the boys are carnivals
we gather round them in the dark room
& they make their noise while drums
ricochet against their bodies & thin air
below the white ceiling hung up like a moon
& it is California, the desert. I am driving in a car,
clapping my hands for the beautiful windmills,
one of whom is my brother, spinning,
on a hillside in the garage
with other boys he'll grow old with, throw back.
How they throw back their bodies
on the cardboard floor, then spring-to, flying
like the heads of hammers hitting strings
inside of a piano.
                                  Again, again.
This is how they fall & get back up. One
who was thrown out by his father. One
who carries death with him like a balloon
tied to his wrist. One whose heart will break.
One whose grandmother will forget his name.
One whose eye will close. One who stood
beside his mother's body in a green hospital. One.
Kick up against the air to touch the earth.
See him fall, then get back up.
Then get back up.

Added: Thursday, June 11, 2015  /  From "The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop," (Haymarket Books, 2015). Used with permission.
Aracelis Girmay
Photo by Sheila Griffin.

Aracelis Girmay grew up in Southern California and now lives in New York with her family. She is the author of the collage-based book changing, changing, and the poetry collections, the black maria, Kingdom Animalia, and Teeth. She is the editor of How to Carry Water: Selected Poems of Lucille Clifton and is on the editorial board of the African Poetry Book Fund. Girmay taught at Hampshire College for several years, and before that facilitated community and youth writing workshops in New York and California. She is currently the assistant chair of the Writing Program at Pratt.  Girmay was a featured poet at Split This Rock Poetry Festival in 2016.

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