P A R T F O U R
Snakes and Ladders
It’s nearing the end of 2017 and someone has just called me out of my name.
Renamed me a commodity. A stitch and a half well done. I would bruise
with discovery the same way a neck discolors from indefinite heat
but that would be proving them right, so instead I think about motive,
what vocabulary wouldn’t have me if I didn’t carry a tongue this therapeutic.
When there is a blitz from all sides of the jaw, how does one bluff that
they are ready? How does one take a curfew and only leave behind silence;
what’s more is I’m quite certain I’m not the most oppressed person I know
this side of the exit sign. What’s more is I still play truth or dare regularly,
still it is cruel having to see punishment spritzed onto skin like a perfume.
Forgive me, I was young once. Forgive me, I was yesterday. I often hear
it’s a cold world and since then, I’ve recognized that the first follower is much
more important to a movement than its leader. Since then, I’ve recognized that
the mind can only go as blank as a bullet for so long before you pull something.
Since then, I’ve recognized that my hamstrings only tighten when I have run
too far (not from a destination nor a start), just far enough to understand what
it means to break in case of emergency, and I think that’s a fairly adequate
analogy for how I approach my ups and downs asunder. With choices,
and I have every right to be as frozen over as an inclined grate or as stilted
as a panorama. Either way, the rain has come before. Either way,
there I will be with a brittle crate full of sheer luck in hand and a center
of gravity as mute as an ocean floor. Trying again despite.
Olatunde Osinaike is a Nigerian-American poet originally from the West Side of Chicago. He is Black, still learning and eager nevertheless. An alumnus of Vanderbilt University, his most recent work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Apogee, HEArt Online, Hobart, Glass, Anomaly, Puerto del Sol, and Columbia Poetry Review, among other publications. He is on the poetry staff at The Adroit Journal and can be found online at www.olatundeosinaike.com.