Ayomide Bayowa, Poet laureate of Mississauga, Ontario (2021 to 2024)
(i.) My mama’s obsessed with uniforms. She wished I grew quicker to end up in one. We birth naked to fold our likeness in slanderous skin into an unbranded up and down. “Wow wow wow,” I pulled up to her in a soft hand-on-waist pose and she’s hooked. All I wanted to become was a rapper. A poet, she bartered. Not in my right senses could I let a spelling bee sting me to starvation of rejected manuscripts. Facts and nothing but fax. (ii.) It’s winter and I’m shedding a new skin; a confused yellow with a little touch of brown. My blackness is turning a muddy poetry. There’s a mix-up somewhere in my dermis. I’m maturing, sticking to things I don’t know, not this elementary nature’s art. Just “wow wow wow,” I ain’t seen none like this before. I am eating up in malnourished rusts. How many more percent of oxygen could I hold? or trees may I unhang or burn to ventilate my lung longer? Mama knew better but she bit the kitchen’s rug’s dust before she could whiten her teeth on a June date. I’m left to maintain this uniformity myself. (iii.) So, loamy-boy, uh? Not as stated in my CV but thanks, I’ve got no more bars except they’d like to put me in one. My cufflinks pin me tighter to this shaggy ‘T’ that I may seem to them one of the good ones. Even without headlock records nor Rasta hairlocks, unfortunately! Then a longer gaze through the office window to the public bus like a deportation plane’s an intense view of clouds putting up Juneteenth cotton picking show, before untacking my cufflinks & rubbing my face to reality, like taking a systemic fate into my hand as a bleaching lotion. Like Bruh! No other way but to do time or make a living on time.
Freetown, Sierra Leone
I learned something new about Black Acadian history, here is my attempt to write a poem about it so here I go:
They were promised rich, dark soil, and were given stone,
Told they should, ‘be thankful’, ‘curb their expectations’, ‘join the Halifax workforce!’
‘It’s the price one pays for Emancipation for all!’ (Within reason of course)
So why the shock? Why the surprise?
That among all these broken promises they chose to dream, to pursue better lives
So they sang under the Cotton Tree, reveling in a land of their own,
Rest easy! And welcome, to Freetown, Sierra Leone
Where dreams are birthed and horizons meet,
in the depths of love and valleys of death,
between the sword tips and beneath the riverbeds,
wrapped in silk, on a canvas of thorns,
the wilting roses searching for the sun-
where meadows weep but angels sing,
dancing on gold, with a halo of fear,
stretch out your love, in the warmth of your palm,
and hold me.
teach me to breathe:
To breathe and to be;