sound off

Photo by Noah Buscher via Unsplash

An Audio Poem for Ezinne Ukoha

they don’t expect you to
sound off . . .
your version of one . . . two
three . . . four
isn’t what they thought
counting would be.
you shout from the rooftops
of every dilapidated building,
saying what the world
wants all of us to deny.

“no justice. no peace.”
you do not rest in the throes
of ignorance, you carry a lightning bolt
solid enough to pierce through
the toughest skin
and light’em up.
from your lips come
the fruits of our labor —
an homage to an undying fight.

strength is you.
on a screen amongst millions, you
let your words fly,
uncertain if they can still
reach someone.

they do.
they can.
they will.
I am a follower,
a faithful reader too.

you are touching me.

if you ever feel like the
world is sitting on your shoulders
happy to be around weighing you down,
know that you’ve lifted hundreds up
and we would stand
at attention if it meant your words
could conjure up the next
uprising.

the love you have for
your people — for those oppressed
and shot down, unfortunate
and dismayed jumps out
of every offering
you have to give and we
could pay our tithes with
the amount of truth you
share and still have plenty
left over to help others.

you are the navy by yourself.

and many hate to see your
fleets coming, but you
attack at will.
you’re ready.
you aim.
and, you fire
hitting the target
every single time.

if passion had a partner,
it’d be you.
you are scaling bumpy
terrain yet you manage
to keep your breaths steady.
I pity the trolls.
they don’t have a chance —
you sass them educationally
with just the right amount
of hot sauce and butter . . .

you burn’em up.

the moment you refuse
to sound off is the moment
the world will miss
one of its gifts who
has been trying to save it
for decades.

rise up, Ezinne,
don’t ever let them
catch you falling.


*Author’s Note: I have been reading Ezinne for at least four years now and with each read, I can still feel the presence of her undying will to use her words to express/fight for/and push towards justice. Originally published in P.S. I Love You via Medium.

November 21, 2016, my first poem for Ezinne:

The Moon is Envious

An Audio Poem

Adrianne Walujo via Mixkit.co

The Moon is Envious

you have more than questions that
need answers — you want to know
if the sun still shines on you, if the
jeans we purchased last year line
your curves without showing too much
and I stand there in front of
a seeking mirror watching you
watch yourself turn into this other
woman.

I trip on my tongue, forever lost
in finding the words that match
the situation. I want to write something instead,
but you are looking at me as I
fumble with my words in the air,
my lips — stuck in a temporary pause,
I utter, “I don’t know how to
tell you that nothing needs changing.”

I immediately get that this is
not the best response and again I
go searching for the right words while
you stare at this other woman
watching you watch her. The mirror
doesn’t change.

silence crowds the room — I part my
way back to you and offer another
response, one that could be better
than the last.
“Every pound is in its rightful place.
Even the moon is envious of you.
it wants to know why such a beautiful being
hides in the dark when she should be
outside lighting up the night.”

I’m no charmer, but you smile.
and my world shifts back into a safe space
because if you’re smiling — then everything’s
all right.
I watch you twirl around, pat your hip
with a quick slap, and flex your
heeled toes. You change your attire.
You model another outfit and
I flop my flimsy body down
on the bed. I am your audience.

the mirror invites you back . . .
you’ve wrapped your body
in a long, black dress. your naked shoulders
sing a somber tune.
slumped in front of this other woman,
you begin sizing up the inches of your waist.
I flit between clapping and throwing confetti.
my heart asks for an encore,
my tongue knows not to form the words.

still, you stand there. waiting for the other
woman to make you feel better
and I know that my words, applause,
confetti, charm, love, and analogies
carry no weight.

you are too busy attempting
to shed pounds — and the only
thing the other woman wants
you to do is notice that
she’s beautiful enough
to cause an envious moon.


Originally published in P. S. I Love You via Medium. The link shared is a friend link as this is a piece behind Medium’s paywall.


*“Take your time and your talent and figure out what you have to contribute to this world, and get over what the hell your butt looks like in those jeans!” — America Ferrera (Cosmo for Latinas in 2012)

Dreamy-eyed Boy

An Experiment Audio Poem

MUSICAL SELECTION: ABBOT KINNEY AND THE LIGHTHOUSE CHOIR|TROUBLE OF THIS WORLD

Caison in the sun|Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

Dear Dreamy-eyed Boy,
promise me you won’t
let them pull you into their black holes — 
their secret places of regret

I need you stronger than the masses
of clicking tongues and forceful hands
under white robes and covered heads
trained to track you, shoot you,
and string your lifeless body up a tree
whose breath still beats in 
urban forests

I want to remember this smile — 
this innocent smile that overpowers me
whenever I see it
and I want the world to be
just as mesmerized with it too

They’re coming for you, they are trying — 
their methods are failing, but
they are in constant motion in
devising plans to take us out and
I don’t want to live in fear of losing you

You have so much life to live
the sun has not had its time 
on the bridge of your nose
the sky is seeking refuge under your arms
and I still need decades multiplied by three
before I can even begin to be satisfied 
with my love for you

Dear Dreamy-eyed Boy,
hold on — 
our help never fails us and 
when the time comes
we will be remembered in 
seasons throughout the years
our smiling mouths opened to
the sea’s stirred pots

We will sop them up with
buttery biscuits, wipe their
remnants on our plates,
and pray for their souls


*Author’s Note: Right at about “refuge,” I got a little choked up.I thought of stopping and beginning the audio again, but listened to it and felt that I should leave it.It seems to be the perfect flaw in a good spot of the poem.


Originally published in The Junction via Medium.

What Happens When We Don’t Say Goodbye?

A Tribute Audio Poem

This is how I will remember you:

silly, silly boy
chasing tail
laughing mouth, eyes full 
of summer.

the girl you caught,
you gave your child — 
left your name
and nothing else.

how can death take you so soon?
the mystery. the madness.
the way you are now a 
Facebook memory
for those still scrolling through
lost days they will never get back.

This is how I will remember you:

giddy, quick hands
storming legs, breaking through
a crowd, lips coated in
bubblegum cigarette powder,
begging for a kiss.

you never uttered a mean 
word to me, only those of love
and I brushed you off because
we were kids and running
around a field or in a hot
gym or lifting weights occupied 
my time.

you persisted and I said “Yes!”
the messages flood my phone,
and I want to stop the
influx of sad faces and weeping words — 
I want your death to disappear,
but the Reaper works overtime.

This is how I will remember you:

dancing down the aisle on
graduation day,
Sunday shoes shined, my face
on your wingtips,
a blue gown draped over your
broad shoulders.

pearl teeth poking through
your lips, your hands flailing
in the humid air.
us. them. we . . . 
children, no longer children
headed into a world 
that promised to 
swallow us whole.

you are not dead,
not today. 
I remember you alive.


Originally published via Medium.

savoir-faire

An Audio Poem

After Bathing, Woman Drying Herself|Edgar Degas

I think it was your knowledge
of everything grim yet hopeful
and all things political that
lured me to you.
I could be even more honest and
say that your poetry captivated me
from the moment I saw you
among a host of others, those who
did not strike the first blow.

You–you had an air about you
that said, “I bite, but gently,” and
I am stubborn and attracted to
what can both harm and love me
at the same time.
Is it any wonder that I’d fall
for such an enigma?
For such a mysterious creature
not yet sure of herself either?

But your savoir-faire precedes you,
I shook hands with it,
before I laid eyes on you.