Blood History

Reginald Dwayne Betts

The things that abandon you get remembered different.As precise as the English language can be, with wordslike penultimate and perseverate, there is not a combinationof sounds that describes only that leaving. Once,drinking & smoking with buddies, a friend asked ifI'd longed for a father. Had he said wanted, I would havedismissed him in the way that the youth dismiss it all:a shrug, sarcasm, a jab to his stomach, laughter.But he said longing. & in a different place, I mighthave wept. Said, Once, my father lived with us & then hedidn't & it fucked me up so much I never thought abouthis leaving until I held my own son in my arms & onlynow speak on it. A man who drank Boone's Farm & MadDog like water once told me & some friends that there is noword for father where he comes from, not like we know it.There, the word for father is the same as the word for listen.The blunts we passed around let us forget ourtongues. Not that much though. But what if the oldhead knew something? & if you have no father, you can'thear straight. Years later, another friend wondered whyI named my son after my father. You know, that's a thingturn your life to a prayer that nay dead man gonna answer.

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Reginald Dwayne Betts is a poet and memoirist. His latest collection of poetry, Felon, was published in October 2019 by W.W. Norton. He holds a J.D. from Yale Law School.

Fall 2019

New York, New York

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Emily Nemens

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Since its founding 1953, The Paris Review has been America’s preeminent literary quarterly, dedicated to discovering the best new voices in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The Review’s renowned Writers at Work series of interviews is one of the great landmarks of world literature. Hailed by the New York Times as “the most remarkable interviewing project we possess,” the series received a George Polk Award and has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. With the December 2016 redesign of the Review’s website, the complete digital archive of everything we’ve published since 1953 is available to subscribers. In November 2017, the Review gave voice to nearly sixty-five years of writing and interviews with the launch of its first-ever podcast, featuring a blend of classic stories and poems, vintage interview recordings, and new work and original readings by the best writers of our time.

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