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Poetry: After Watching “Surviving R. Kelly”

"People want me to believe / there’s a difference when the result / is the same, same, same."

Posted on January 9, 2019, at 12:19 p.m. ET

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After Watching “Surviving R. Kelly,” The First Days of a New Year Feel Like So Many Others

Their cries catapult me
into the night, deep into
chilling clarity. Outside,
I shiver with stars
teeming a crowded sky—
watch them as they
watch me, helpless,
too remote to be
of consequence
to each other.

A few days ago, I walked
to my mailbox,
to get coffee in the rain
as bullets riddled Jazmine's sweet
brown girl body nestled
against her sister’s body
in the backseat
riding home.

I can’t tell you what I was doing
each time his large brown hands
choked a slender brown neck
when someone’s daughter
didn’t obey fast enough
for over 30 years, or when his wife
stood on that balcony ready
to leap.

People want me to believe
there’s a difference when the result
is the same, same, same.

I am lesson planning
& they languish in those dens
posing as houses right now,
devoured at his will.
I am thinking of lunch
yet they haven’t eaten for days.
I am on my own couch alone
as a wrecked son poisons the air
singing his sins & bodies move
to rhythms of ruin. The sound
stains so many forevers. //// A handful

of men shout I believe
& love you above
cussing & drunken laughter,
missed calls & deleted messages,
bootleg videos passed around.
Vacuums of silence when parties
disperse until next time. & oh yeah,
a coach married a friend
right after high school graduation,
after private workouts
in the gym after practice. & why
was a teenager sentenced for saving
herself from this kind of terror
when no one else did? How sorry
this all is, regular & too real.

Breath bursts from my lips
like smoke signals, my steam
a small chimney
in this vast darkness,
the black arms
of naked trees too frail to hold
their own leaves
or anything else. ●


Courtesy of the author

The author of Starshine & Clay (2017) and She Has a Name (2013), both published by Four Way Books, Kamilah Aisha Moon’s work has been featured widely, including the Harvard Review, Poem A Day, Boston Review, Prairie Schooner and elsewhere. Moon holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and is an Assistant Professor of Poetry and Creative Writing at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia.