two poems by Reginald Harris
Jean-Michel Basquiat: His Things

Closet filled with thousand-dollar suits
splattered with paint. Charlie Parker in a box
(Bird Lives!) and on the canvas. Ali, Jack Johnson
and a crown. Nightmare

Recordings – audio, video – and books on art. Antique
toys (A broken horse, hand-painted spinning top…)
djembes and mbiras (thumb pianos)
four horns from Mozambique. Erector set. Tangle of blonde hair…

(His jazz was in the Dumpster
along with the Director’s chair)

Drawings (917)
Sketchbooks (25)
Prints (85)
Paintings (171)


A punched-through window, captioned
“Broken Heart”



The Young Widower

Words never seem to fit around
my love. Baggy, a trashy overcoat draping
narrow shoulders, or too tight, straining love,
twisting it to shapes sharper than a blow
across the face.

No one understands
the other women. Think me over her,
back on the hunt. They can’t see the end of
shuffled hours lost in swift-moving hands,
the evening creeping from the room, leaving
an empty winter morning sprawled across
the bed.

Our child is crying.
I cry too, inside, a city lost to never-ending
flame. I keep this to myself. I am a man.

Children do not forgive. Would not
if I filled the promised rooms of our home with
another woman. What would they think?
That I did not love her anyway?
That I want them to lose the thread of
Memory, forget her voice’s buttermilk
cooing them to sleep?

The youngest cries. Soon
she will wake her sister, begin a duet of tears.
I go to rock her in my too hard arms,
her small face a miniature of her mother’s. Calm her
with the beating of my tattered heart, the soft hush
of rain inside my chest. Reassure her with a silence
truer than mere words.