When they cut my face.
Was I sucking?
Were my eyes closed?
Was I sneezing?
Was I coughing?
Was I crying?
Was I carried
I didn’t know?
I didn’t say
When I, Abiku, come again,
The palm oil on my head,
The Knife cuts on my back,
and my face, The smoked snail
shell on my breast, The libations
Won’t let me stay.
When I come again,
The shortness of breath,
Yellow eyes, dizziness,
Pneumonia, swelling of hands
And feet, delayed menstruation
Won’t let me stay.
On the Line
Before the captives from Dahomey
and the criminals from Oyo stepped
down the hull of the Portuguese and
Dutch with their stick hooked necks
And hands tied with ropes
behind their backs
For spirits, knives, guns, and salt,
They starred at the
Three and four vertical,
Multiple straight and curved
Oyo cuts on their cheeks.
Tattoos and Taboos
He moved from table to table like small chops,
satisfying guests needs. He greeted, laughed,
hugged, kissed, and even served them
Until he paused with the drums.
“Hand over the baby,” the artisan said.
The guests stared at him as he took the baby
from his wife. They waited for him
to hand over the baby to the artisan but instead
He caressed the baby’s face endlessly,
as he thought of his new faith, and
She stares at the mirror inside her powder
As she wipes her hair line with cotton pads
She wipes her eyelids until they’re brown, and
wipes her eyebrows until they’re no longer horizontal lines
She peels off the mask and washes her face
and the rest of her body with soap and water
But she cannot wipe the four horizontal lines on her cheeks
because that make up is skin deep.
Kolade Olaiya: "I am graduate student at East Tennessee State University, Tennessee. I am a Nigerian who has been writing poetry for six years. I love describing things in a way that balances clarity and ambiguity. I am also someone who does not find myself or my work deep because I find a lot of deep work and people, abstract."