Reginald Dwayne Betts

Elephants in the Fall

for Micah and Miles


1. Micah Michael Zamir Betts


November’s flame in that year of hard sunsets,

             of winter’s plangency & days when

my insomnia courted cognac.

All our thoughts were beginnings,

& you became the roundness

that grew to a moon

above your mother’s hips.

We waited without a name

for your wonder

& three days after your birth

twice named you after the uncle

you’ll never meet. The names

questions: Micah, who resembles God.

Michael, who reminds us of who has gone too soon.

& we pronounced Micah as we wanted: Mekhi,

             because like the kid from Clockers,

we scrape fists and cuffs for the dreams of you.

& now, when on most days your body

is all blur & bustle –


Our song is how right we got it,

when the light from that moon spilled

out of your mother’s belly, I tell

             you, you were smiling then,

as if you knew you were the first song

that found me worthy.




“Elephants in the Fall” is performed with Tsitsi Jaji, and is from Bastards of the Reagan Era (Four Way Books, 2015).