Three Poems By Sarah Blake

by Mark Bibbins, Editor

Ha Ha Hum

One of my favorite songs:

Life of a Don, lights keep glowin’,
coming in the club with that fresh shit on, with
something crazy on my arm,

Then, three throat-clearing sounds — sometimes depicted as Ha Ha Hum on
lyrics websites such as,, and

A sound we make when we talk with the mouths of Jews.
Channukah, la chiem, chutzpah.
Voiceless fricative.

Russians have a letter for it. In block, an x, in cyrillic, two c’s back to back.
In the words, good, chorrosho, and bad, plocho.
They have other letters I love, for sh, tss, sht, szhyoo.

The sound Kanye makes — it’s not unlike the French r.
How my name falls back into the mouth like it’s collapsing.

In Russian, the r would roll, as when my great grandmother said her name,
as when my great grandfather called to her.
My name means princess in Hebrew.

Yours means the only one in Swahili.
A language once written in Arabic script, now written with letters like ours.
Switched in the 1800’s. Trying for sounds like nz and nd, to begin words.

The mouths we speak with are hidden by our other mouths.


The couple, who have dated on and off since 2002, got engaged over a lobster and pasta dinner during a vacation on the island of Capri in August 2006.

How does People magazine know this?

I hate to say things look like butterflies, but what should I say — the island
looks like motion? Like a liver?
It’s an island.
You proposed to her and it looks like a butterfly.

The Italian map, covered in via, via, via. The Italian mountain. Citrus and gulls. I have never been to Italy, let alone to Capri. And I have never been to an island so small.

When The New York Times reporters write about 808s & Heartbreak, they write how:

[it] is the product of a tumultuous year in his personal life. His mother, Donda West, died in 2007. . .
in April 2008 he and his fiancé split.

They don’t name her. Alexis Phifer.

If Alexis is the woman in “Heartless,” in the video, thank you
for covering her dress in stars.

I have planned my wedding — sent the invitations, tasted all the cakes, bought my dress, named for its sweetheart top, and sparkling. My mother has RSVP’ed.

I got engaged in the courtyard of a museum in Philadelphia — Museum of
Archaeology and Anthropology.
Mummies resting
behind us, and sculptures from China.

The past pushes us.

I lament what you have lost even if you do not still love her.

I think of all the coves of Capri — Cala del Lupinaro, Cala del Rio, Cala di Mezzo, Cala Spravata, Cala Marmolata, Cala di Matermania. And Kapros, meaning wild boar.

Kanye’s Circulatory System

Upon the Two-Year Anniversary of the Death of My Grandfather Allen

The blood helps because the heart helps because the electricity moves us.

Kanye, my circulatory system looks like yours. So you too have a soft vein
too big for your temple, a pulse in your thumb. You’re still losing your mother.

One reporter called your mother’s death, “more data for the live stream.”
I apologize for him. He thinks, maybe, two years is a long time.

Last year, in Princeton, I tutored a sixth grader in every subject. As he learned
the systems of the body, I did too, beginning with the diagram of the heart.

What new words did you learn then? What new procession of breath
did you practice when I was teaching a boy how to say vena cava and aorta,

when I drew hearts on a chalkboard for him, day after day, and erased,
with my finger, the holes for the pulmonary veins to come in, to

fill the left atrium with the blood we could not draw? You recorded a song.
I’d love if you’d recorded a song. I almost forget again that your heart

looks like mine. You’ve heard the pulse in your ears then. You know
wush is not a foolish way to describe it. You miss her and I miss him but

surely I cannot say if, when you think of death, you, Kanye, think of the heart.

Sarah Blake lives just outside of Philadelphia. Her Kanye West poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Witness, Sentence, and elsewhere.

There is so much more poetry available right here, in The Poetry Section’s vast archive. You may contact the editor at