Rosie O'Donnell Writes Poem for Kalief Browder: I Texted With Him Before His Suicide

"An hour later he was gone / I wished I called instead of texting."

Rosie O'Donnell wrote a poem in honor of Kalief Browder, the 22-year-old New Yorker who committed suicide following a three-year stint at Rikers Island for a theft charge that ultimately was dismissed.

Browder's case gained national attention after a New Yorker article profiled him, describing how he was arrested for allegedly stealing a backpack at age 16 and held at Rikers despite not having been convicted. After his release, Browder recounted the horrors he endured while in prison at the hands of guards and other inmates. This past November, O'Donnell invited him to come on The View to share his story. O'Donnell stayed in touch with Browder after his visit, and in a new poem she published on her site, she reveals she had him over to her house for dinner and was texting with him only an hour before he hung himself with an air-conditioning cord.

In a poem entitled "1000 Nights" O'Donnell mourns the loss of Browder and recounts their final conversation. She writes, "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 understandin / R- totally get it – i am a text away – if u need anything – peace and i love u / an hour later he was gone."

She adds, "i wished i called instead of texting / i wish i could soothe his fears / calm his terrorized brain."

In the poem, O'Donnell says Browder had happily told her he had met with Jay Z, and in turn, she told the young man she had spoken with Jay Z and Kanye West about "him and his greatness."

"i love him / i microwave love him / i vow to the light i will keep him / sign my name on his soul," she writes. "1000 days / kalief survived / yesterday he surrendered / part of me has gone with him."

Read O'Donnell's full poem below.

1000 nights

 

the tonys r finished

and tears fell freely

as kelli ohara reminded me

how 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 random act of god

placed me in your 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

 

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 love him

i vow to the light i will keep him

sign my name on his soul

 

around so many others

cheering him on

thru the darkest of tunnels

toward the sun

 

his mom who adopted kalief –

hey youngest boy

8th out of 8

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

he told me he met jay z

smiling from deep down

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

 

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 z 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 understandin

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

 

an hour later he was gone

i wished i called instead of texting

i wish i could soothe his fears

calm his terrorized 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

all

1000 days

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