July 1, 2015

Three Poems By Deonte Osayande: "Twisted Origins", "Raven", "Disappearing Search"

Deonte Osayande is a writer from Detroit, Mi. His poems and essays have been published in over a dozen publications including Word Riot, The Missing Slate, and New Poetry From the Midwest and have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He has been a member of the Detroit Poetry Slam Team multiple times which he now manages. He's currently teaching at Wayne County Community College, and through the Inside Out Detroit Literary Arts Program. 

His new chapbook, Cover The Sky With Crows, is available here: 

Twisted Origins

I can't pretend to know
what war did to the brain of the man who used to be the boy

I grew up with. Since childhood we've been balloons, bursting
with our faults. I thought as adults we were both no longer

swollen with the tempers of our adolescence, no longer shaken
by the tremors of our concealed pain. I can't act

like I know how that boy transformed
into the guy I saw in the mug shot. There isn't preparation

for learning that you grew up with a monster. Nothing
gets you ready for the next time you look his little brother in the face

and wonder whether he'll weather being aware of whatever
evil lives in his older sibling. The specter of guilt

over not being able to do anything to change his path
follows me. I can't prove that there was anything I could have

done. I never got to meet the now departed
mother of his daughter or even their child, now left

behind, with no parents, into the care
of people none of us know.


My little brother has a whole lot of mouth. The boy
won't stop talking, squawking
as if he just hatched from an egg and is hungry

to bite off more than he can chew. My mother calls him a baby bird
hanging in a murder of crows. She's saying he flocks
to the wrong crowd of black birds

but in certain areas our lives may be dangling
from trees quite literally anyway. My mother hates
when I travel. She wants to keep me at home,

to keep the both of us safe. She knows when I'm away I walk
around the ghetto, take the bus, ride the train. Show me the hood
and I will show you a nest. I know

how to become a raven and I can recognize a vulture
when I see one. I've seen so many boys like us lose their lives
before they gain wings and learned how to fly.

without anyone shedding a tear. I know how urban gravity works, why
the trap has it's name. It's been hunting season
for us for hundreds of years now. Why wouldn't we know how to blend in?

Disappearing Search

My niece asks if the police ever found
my friend. I have to tell her the truth

about when black girls go missing
how they become change, small to most

of the country, forgotten. They aren't searched for
in the same way keys are. They have worth,

power, value but to most it isn't enough
to be bothered. My niece asks if it bothers me

and I have to tell her how it's been
two full calendars since

the last time we spoke, and six months ago was the last time
anyone had heard from her. When her face showed up

on the news that December morning I still couldn't believe
what I was seeing, considering how she didn't live anywhere near

here. I remember our first time meeting, on a greyhound bus
in Memphis, heading our separate ways. Once again,

here we are going in different directions, except
now my worry has been unlocked in ways I did not previously

know. How many black girls have had their pictures posted
online by family and friends I did not know

because they too went silently into the night? My niece
asks me if this disappearance is why I hug her so tight. I don't answer.

~Deonte Osayande

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