None of My Vices Are Violent Enough to Undo Remembering

— Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib

and it is troubling isn’t it
to have a reflection

that always arrives when called
despite the steam pulling

its thick tongue along a mirror’s edges
after I emerge unsanctified

from underneath the raging
showerhead

and it is really something
to love only the unseen

and still be finite
back in the golden era

a good bluesman
would have a memory

only as long as it took for the last
guitar note to drown itself

in something that burned
the throat on the dance

down and I guess that doesn’t seem so
bad when you consider the times

what I’m saying is that if you’re going to die
broke you might as well also

do it alone
my great great grandfather could not swim

he played guitar for coins on the juke
circuit but never parted his lips

for the drink and so when the yawning
maw of the Mississippi coughed out his

remains there was no other excuse
for what dragged him

to the water except for that which he didn’t
do himself the mercy of forgetting

and in all of the pictures I have his smile
it is dark outside my window

and I see my reflection in everything I see
my reflection in the water

especially the water


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