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"Once" by Truth Thomas

Updated: May 9


in a village called the District, Reuben Jackson’s smile pulled up

at the American Poetry Museum, about a fortnight after of his

passing. It appeared on a Sunday, thick with verses and Pepe’s

thumping upright, took a quiet seat, thumbing wire-rimmed

glasses above its incandescent brow. This happened in February

2024—and Sami Miranda’s pork pie brim will tell you. At first,

all ArtWalk eyes were holden to see his honey grin. “All hail

the Bard of Brightwood; his timbre was just upon me,” one

microphone erupted. “I can still feel sunlight of his dap, warm

my metal skin, faithful as testimony of fingerprints,” another

wept and said. And on that same day, in a mourning village

called the District, Sadness played drums for Grief well into

night, as condensation raced tears down the face of every window—until there came a time when Reuben’s smile stood up. And when it did, all The Brookland finally saw it—saw him: Naomi, Sister of Melanie; Brandon, Brother of Kenneth-Gilmore- Renegade; Everlasting Ethelbert-the Miller, WPFW, Cousin of Free Speech. All DC Table of Contents saw him—and every loudspeaker living will tell you. He broke the bread of laughter, tarried like a bookmark in our pages, and vanished back into a poem. ---


Truth Thomas is a singer-songwriter, poet, and photographer born in Knoxville, Tennessee and raised in the sacred DMV. An NAACP Image Award-winner, he is the Inaugural Poet Laureate of Howard County, Maryland.

(Photo: Courtesy of Howard County Government)

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