1000 nights

the tonys r finished
and tears fell freely
as kelli ohara reminded me
we humans need each other

i read a story
in the new yorker
so gut wrenchingly raw
i wrote the author

she connected me
with kalief
an adopted boy
my owns son age

he just finished his first year of college
he did very well
i am proud
of my sons

which one landed in my lap
what radom act of god
placed u in my path
the two of us

so in a suit
he showed up at the view
shiny and sweet
i hugged him tight

1000 days and nights
in adult prison
2 years in the hole
tortured raped starved

just sixteen years old
when he was stolen
off the streets
put in a cage

i hold him
i touch his head
i tell him he is beautiful
he is

i love him
i microwave intensity love him
i vow to the light i will keep him safe
sign my name to his soul

like so many others
cheering him on
thru the darkest of tunnels
toward the sun

his mom who adopted kalief –
her youngest boy
the 7th of 7
who found him hanging yesterday

outside the window
of the apartment they shared
the electric cord
his noose

he came to my home for dinner
smiling from deep down
he told me he met jay z
this one – i thought – would be spared

against all odds
this man child
who refused to say he stole
when he did not

this kalief –
was made of strong stuff
a leader – a prince
a son – 24601

he had a birthday last week
got him an amazon gift card
thursday night – in la
i bumped into jay z

i thanked him for meeting kalief
for reaching out
how maybe
we could help him further

i texted kalief
that i saw jay n kanye
and we spoke about HIM
his greatness

yesterday at 11:03
he texted me

K – Srry rosie i need sum time to myself

R – ok no problem !!! be well

K – Mental struggles thanks for understand

R- totally get it – i am a text away if u
need anything – peace – i love u

an hour later he was gone
i wish i had called
that i had soothed his fears
calmed his traumatized brain

tonight alone
back in my home
i realize
he is home too

1000 days
kalief survived
yesterday he surrendered
part of me has gone with him

my son
our sons
1000 days

32 Responses to '1000 nights'

  1. Marcia Evans says:

    I appreciate & respect the caring love that you Rosie shared w/Kalief:) I’m sooooooooooooo full of pain/anger/disgust/shame/sadness that AGAIN America’s crooked Judicial system has failed…AGAIN:( How was that justice in any form? I appreciate all the comments regarding Kalief loss to his family & yourself. Some folks acknowledging the injustice. Where is the OUTRAGE w/Rikers Island walls of SHAME? OUTRAGE WILL SUPPORT PROSECUTING ALL OF THOSE SICK CORRECTION OFFICERS AND GANG MEMBERS:(

  2. Kellie says:


    Thank you for caring and being there for him. I had no idea about this story until yesterday. I watched the youtube clip of when he was on the view, and anxiously went to watch the view to see how you were doing and didn’t realize you had left. He is in a better place and in no more pain. I have 3 AA boys, I know the pain his mother is going through just being a mother of three black boys. Stay strong Rosie and know that the kindness you gave will forever be remembered. Peace and Love

  3. Mindy Fuller says:

    Rosie this is very beautiful and very sad. Too many young black men with sad stories. Everyone in American should be a part of Criminal Justice Reform. We are trying to help our Sons with our documentary Choice Not Chance. It’s time we all lift one another up. Let’s use this young man to motivate us to make changes that positively affect all young men. The goal is not to throw people in prison. The goal should be justice and rehabilitation. I pray peace and comfort to Kelief’s family &…

  4. Mollies Joseph says:

    Humanity and compassion at its maximum.God bless you Rosie. Khalief is at peace now,may God bless his soul. My heart cries out for a life lost because of injustice. Your Spirit lives on Khalief R.I.P.

  5. ThankYouRosie says:

    Cannot stop crying. I just heard about the story and made me well up. You must be hurting Rosie. Thank you for caring for Kalief. May he rest in eternal peace. You are a good person Rosie. A good person.

  6. Orla George says:

    Kalief was accused of stealing a backpack. There are bankers who manipulated international currencies and laundered millions for drug and weapons traffickers who’ve never spent a night in jail.
    Kalief Browder death has to be a beginning and not an end. A lifeline to the 1500 men and boys trapped in Rikers awaiting trial for more than a year. I hope you’ll be part of driving to action what all of us can do to demand our system protect it’s most vulnerable citizens instead of dehumanizing…

  7. Orla George says:

    Thank you for sharing. And finding the courage to put into words the limitless sadness of this loss. I couldn’t speak when I read the New Yorker article. It was a slash to my belief in humanity. Kalief Browder was tortured and slowly murdered by the Unified Courts and Department of Corrections of New York because he was black and poor and expected a fair trial. This was a crime against humanity. Everything this country stands for is diminished by the torture Kalief Browder suffered.

    • Stephanie gyamfi says:

      Perfectly said. This has weighed so heavily on my heart these past days. What happened to him is unfathomable to me. America killed Kalief.

  8. RIP Kalief. May your loved ones be blessed with the strength to get through this. I cried after I read this poem. I cried after reading the articles that brought this young man’s life to all of our attention. We must work to change the criminal justice system. We need to police the police. I hope everyone that hurt this young mans get theirs. These celebrities who tried God Bless. It wasn’t enough. Jigga and Ye could be doing much more for their communities but they are more worried…

  9. Rebecca Rodriguez says:

    Rosie, I want to thank you for this poem. I’m been completely haunted by this story and cried many tears just reading what you wrote. I’m thankful that you got to meet him and express love and support. I feel so helpless and wish there was more that could be done. I wish something, some real reform could come from this. I ask that you please continue to be a voice for this cause.

  10. Kaysher Samuel says:

    Rosie – Thank you for loving Kalief, for giving him a voice, for caring and all that you did to let him know that he mattered. He couldn’t escape the demons and it breaks my heart to know that he is gone. But I know he felt your love and knew that he was special. The demons may have taken him from us but his spirit must still live on. I hope that you can use your platform to keep his story alive until justice is served. We will all rally around you in anyway that we can. A beautiful poem…

  11. I don’t believe anything you might have done or not done would have stopped him. He gave you no hard clue. Think on this, if you had never called him, befriended him, loved him, would he have lasted as long as he did. I truly wish he had not viewed that video of his beatings at the New Yorker. He was already paranoid with ptsd.

  12. Brhea says:

    This moved me deeply, Rosie. I feel like I know your heart and the pain and guilt you must be feeling is unimaginable. I hope that you know within your soul that you made an impact on Kalief’s life.

    Your words are profound. The imagery that he could easily have been the baby placed in your arms 19 years ago will stick with me.

    When will we all wake up? We are failing these young men at an epidemic rate.

    My deepest condolences to Kalief’s family.

    Sending yellow your way at this…

  13. suzy says:

    So beautifully said Rosie. For all the unspeakable horrors Kalief went through, he must have had to retreat so deeply into his soul to survive, a relief strong enough to penetrate to the depths he now dwelled, to help ease his pain, just could not be found-despite the best efforts of those who cared. At least you provided a ray of hope-a brief moment of yellow in the darkness that surrounded him. May his death serve as a lesson-an inspiration-to never allow this to happen again-to anyone.

  14. Kathleen says:

    I love you. Kalief is all yellow. He lives in yellow, he loves in yellow and he is at peace in yellow. I love you.

  15. maureen burt says:

    the song blackbird comes to my mind…i’m so sad those broken wings never healed enough to fly… may he find the peace denied him and yellow surround his soul and comfort him…and he never be forgotten…i know you will make sure of that…

  16. Marian M says:

    As I sit here trying to find some words to comfort you, I think of how you comforted him. He knew he was loved by you, believed by you. 2 of my youngest (same age as Parker) sons friends committed suicide. No signs, no reasons. Hard to come to grips with, to understand.
    Stay in the light Rosie. Refuse to let the darkness in. Find happiness in your beautiful children, your friends. Always YELLOW!
    Be well my stranger friend.

  17. Ara says:

    1000 places you could have been
    but you were there for him in his last hour,
    reaching out to him
    In such pain, he texted you back
    because he knew you loved him
    and he didn’t want you to hurt,
    Kalief loved you back

  18. Ara says:

    1000 Thanks
    for sharing this raw pain
    reminding us all how connected our souls can be
    …..should be

    1000 hours of tears
    couldn’t stop the pain

    1000 smiles Kalief had when speaking of his adoptive mom
    God must have given her such grace

    1000 more like Kalief’s attorney, Prestia
    bringing forth truth that cannot be ignored

    1000 Thanks
    for being there for Kalief after the camera lights faded
    taking him into your home and your heart

    1000 places you could have been

  19. Bonnie says:


  20. Katharine Lippincott says:

    Oh, Rosie. Such unbelievably tragic news. I’m so sorry for all who loved Kalief. My brother committed suicide 6 years ago. I learned that only the passage of time lessens the “what ifs?” and the guilt…and there are no easy answers. The best thing to do is to make Kalief’s life and death MEAN something, which you have already done! Beautifully-written poem. Sending you a big hug, Rosie!

  21. Kris says:

    Please continue to be his voice. His story needs to reach everyone. Now that he is no longer “the boy who was mistreated and set free, the brave survivor who is past it and going to college”, maybe now the inexcusable actions of so many will be addressed.
    You tried, and touched him where so many didn’t. You helped him.
    Beyond heartbreaking, I’m so so sorry. Xxx

  22. Stephanie Heat says:

    Beautifully said. He is home. He is. This life did not serve him. I hope wherever his soul is now, he has found a path to healing, forgiveness and peace. He deserves it.
    God, Ro , I am so mad. So mad….

  23. Lisa says:

    There are no answers with suicide. My husband took his life years ago and we will never have the answers we want. Why Why Why??
    Please don’t beat yourself up. Know that you may never have the answer that will make sense of this loss.

    • QY says:

      No disrespect, but if you don’t know the reason why, then you are beyond help. Read into his story. Close to six years in prison, having done NOTHING. Was offered a plea at 33 months, and REFUSED it. not wanting to cop to a crime he did not commit, he went in at 16. For 6 years he was beaten, starved, and who knows what else. Imagine, for 6 years, a child looking within himself for comfort. Imagine 5-6 attempted suicides in prison. Should have he had killed himself? No. But i know why.

  24. Family find comfort in knowing he felt the love that was shown from all of you. I have so much more i could say as in a small way i have a stry but maybe another time.. If you ever wanna reach out happy to listen.. I am just so very very sorry.. Love to ur ur family and Kaliefs.. Blair

  25. I am Shocked and deeply saddened by the news of Kalief.My Husband & I watched the 2 of you on the view & we touched by his story. It was clear that you had a genuine love & concern for him.Lost my Mom to suicide 20yrs ago. Those feelings of guilt haunt me even at this moment. Im sure that not only you but those who loved him are somehow feeling..shoulda coulda woulda.. But in my heart, even though i never had the honor of meeting Kalief,im sure he felt ur love& compassion.i hope that you & his

  26. Ollie Simmons says:

    I wish I could hug you and tell you it’s going to be OK but we both know that it will take time for you to even be able to think of Kalief without hurting.
    As much as he touched your heart you touched his.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you, his family and the many people he touched. Kalief was and will always be remembered for how he stood up for himself, for being so very brave.
    I have to believe that he’s in a much better place at peace. (((Hugs)))

  27. Alan Jay Kahm says:

    Kalief of the Thousand Days,
    your story will be told over and over. Yes, you will be remembered as the beacon shining your light on your history so others won’t be doomed to repeat it.
    Your light will shine as strong as when you were with us.
    Some say G-d only gives us what we can handle. Unfortunately, blanket statements,from people with good intentions, just do not ring true.
    What will remain ringing loud and clear is the resounding truth and your purity of heart.

    Peace to you,…

  28. Carol Gossett says:

    Rosie, I am devastated by this news. My heart has been so touched by your love and caring for this special young man. Words can not express the grief I’m feeling for his mom, his family, for you.

  29. Paula Andraia Mickle says:

    This literally brings tears to my eyes, It’s very heartfelt and warm and beautiful written. I’m sorry to hear about his loss. He was so young who didn’t deserve to be treated the way he did, What they did to him was very inhumane and cruel. I can’t begin to imagine how you’re feeling and what you and his family are going through. My thoughts and Prayers are with you Rosie and to Kalief and his family. Much love to you, to kalief and his family. ?