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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 is the author of the collage-based book changing, changing, and the poetry collections Teeth and Kingdom Animalia. Her newest book, The Black Maria, was published in 2016. She went to school at Cave Canem, Acentos, NYU, Community~Word Project, and Bar 13. She has been awarded the GLCA New Writers Award and the Isabella Gardner Award (BOA Editions), and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Girmay is on the faculty of The School for Interdisciplinary Arts at Hampshire College and Drew University’s low-residency MFA program. Before that, and for several years, Girmay taught community and youth writing workshops. She was a featured poet at Split This Rock Poetry Festival in 2016. For more information, visit Girmay’s website.

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