Self-Portrait of a Boy, From the Man He Became

Idle youth, enslaved to everything; by being too sensitive I have wasted my life.
– Arthur Rimbaud

Now at the verge
of birthing little things

of my own, I think
to what I thought
were beavers’ teeth
in my younger mouth.

Saliva on my face, from
my mother wiping crust
off of it, I vaguely recall

this time of us together. Pride
had not yet been earned,
although teachers tried
to give stickers despite

my illogical fear of them.
Remembering the gardens

we once built up, hard
before I adopted this
language as my own.

Still I hold on tight
to my mother, always.

Deonte Osayande is a writer from Detroit, MI. His nonfiction and poetry have been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology, and the Pushcart Prize, and a Digital Book Award. He has represented Detroit at four National Poetry Slam competitions. He’s a professor of English at Wayne County Community College. His books include Class (Urban Farmhouse Press, 2017), Circus (Brick Mantel Books, 2018) and Civilian (Urban Farmhouse Press, 2019).

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