BY PROXIMITY by DEON ROBINSON

I would like to believe we live forever, and when I say forever,
I mean we live longer than our favorite song.
Don’t let anyone tell you forever has to feel so guilty,

so strained, a cauterized theory of letting go.
I haven’t the language to hope you get home safely,
but I have the muscle memory of holding on

for too long every time. What is it called when you say goodbye
to someone you love and worry for the person
they’ll become alone? My mother taught me a song she played

on repeat when I was in her womb that I couldn’t name
but I know by sixth sense, by proximity, by habit. Remembering
is a chore, but it’s one I’ve performed those Saturday mornings

when all I could hear was the buoyancy of gospel,
and the walls sang long after the television was turned off.
Maybe I’ve taken knowing someone by heart for granted.


Deon Robinson is an Afro-Latino poet born and raised in Bronx, New York. He is an undergraduate at Susquehanna University, where he is the two-time recipient of the Janet C. Weis Prize for Literary Excellence. His work has appeared in Glass Poets Resist SeriesHomology LitHoney and Lime Lit, Kissing Dynamite Poetry, Occulum Journal, Okay Donkey and the Shade Journal, among others. His work was also nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology in 2019. He is pursuing a BA from Susquehanna University, where he hopes to be able to get into an MFA or land himself into a fellowship. Follow his misadventures and let him know what your favorite poems are on Twitter @djrthepoet.

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, poetry, and creative nonfiction from marginalized creators.