Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib | Washington Bullets

Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib | Washington Bullets

I recently came across Hanif’s work during the #BlackPoetsSpeakOut campaign. At the time I had not heard any of his poems, but since first featuring him on the blog earlier this month I have listened to almost all of them! This poem ‘Washington Bullets‘ is by far one of my favorites. Often times you know what a poem is going to be about based on the tittle of the poem. When I first clicked on it I thought it was going to be something politically charged and hard hitting, and well, it was…kinda.

It was unexpected and brilliant.

Right off

Michelle Obama loves Punk Rock music;
Rolls her eyes when Barack picks yet another Stevie Wonder standard
To stroll out to during campaign stops
Would appreciate the irony of coming out
To a Dead Kennedy song;
The rest of the county, likely would not

This poem has an ease to it, it says I know something that you do not. It is serious and comedic but it does both without trying to do either, and that for me is the real magic. This poem is as much an Op-ed about the First ladies music choices, as it is a gut wrenching look into the ills of being black and in power in this country.

I often picture the Obama’s as a distant aunt and uncle, like I can invite them over for dinner. I like to think when they showed up and unzipped themselves they would be very familiar, we would laugh at the same part of the movie, their tragedy would be mine. We would be spades games and our grandma telling us to stay out of the kitchen until the food is ready. I always wondered if I was the only one who did this. To me this poem is that, its familiar but its also right in a way I don’t have to confirm, it just is…Michelle is bored and she loves punk rock music….

And Just when you thought the poem could not get anymore clever, Hanif drops quite possibly the best line I have heard in a while.

Jackie Kennedy once said that the last thing
To cross her mind as her husband’s mind crossed her lap
After 6.5 millimeters of New America turned her into the prettiest widow in East Texas
Was how nice, red roses permeate


Hanif ate this poem, he is, in my opinion a giant…who conjures all of this efortless magic…and he does it before noon

Listen to this poem!!

Be on the lookout for his book “Sons Of Noah” coming out next year through Tired Hearts Press.

Hanif will also be booking shows for the spring, check his Facebook for updates!!


Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib