by Anthony Okpunor

what is that in your mouth
your mock your father’s silence before it becomes
                                                            girls who do not spell the alphabets in your name correctly
                                   you say it’s bitter drinking from an ocean
                                                                                  you love the color of bitterness
what part of you isn’t crazy
madness is love sometimes
                                the truth is you once cared for your father
talk about your science teacher
               did he not say the earth revolves with you in it
it is vain to accept love without accepting sadness first
your name is different in every language
                                 no one knows what’s wrong with you
                                 your hand is a road map
                                 your dead lovers are road maps
                                 your bitten tongue is a road map
a road map is what is lost after naming a body of water
a road map is your skin beautiful with different boys calling it white
not-white       caucasian      olive-brown       jewish                         there are some words that fit into leaking tongues
  your skin is quick and brief—something bitten into black
boys yawn before biting at your flesh
biting into rocks with honey
it means you should cook before it’s late at night
                                                                             the world has it that bad dreams come with late
night foods
but your worries are different        aren’t they
in the morning you will notice that songs float in every bird’s tongue
so do not worry about what died on your face
what flew from your mother and burned your house down
your mother beats your younger brother’s mouth for cursing
   & those words always fall back into yours
you like the way your brother screams in pain
your mother is always blind from anger
again your worries are different
you know though
you dance your body into the depth of water and it stings your mother’s heart
you should teach young men who visit
                                    that a boat inside you do not sail with lovers


Anthony Okpunor is a Nigerian writer who discovered poetry and writing in general, as a better form of self-expression from his early school days. He lives and writes from Asaba in Delta State. He is a student of the University of Benin at the time. He splits his time between writing, reading, lectures, good epic music, and himself. His works have appeared in several online platforms including African Writers and Praxis Magazine.



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