The Poetry Project

Emmanuel Olunkwa

Metaphor For Eternity

they want us to talk about race
in the race to win their attention and lose ourselves
talk about being black they say
ask me about the african american experience i say
but then stutter, being black and speaking black
ain’t being black and talking about being black
being black is being green feeling blue tasting orange

i never spoke about race
i told all the lies they told me to tell
the lies they taught me to told

say what you say the way we want you to say it
speak about race they say, in this race
make it up as you go when we say go

the race you win is the race they told you to lose
being african american ain’t in the race
being black ain’t the race
being black ain’t being black ain’t seeing red ain’t feeling blue

being black ain’t being ain’t seeing ain’t feeling
but being black be doing
be showing that shit
fuck a conversation
fuck a race
we ain’t and can’t all win
so lose the race


i didn’t know how to just tell them i needed time
space to understand and be left with unfettered thoughts
dragging my life around thinking it would become okay
grasping for it to be more than an accessory
a reality
a world that i’m living within that isn’t outside of me
stumbling, fumbling through the thick of it all
waiting for The Enlightenment
but i have enough white men in my life
already been deep in enough white men in my life

talking about everything but what is really on my mind
waiting for the wrong person to ask the right question

sure i’ll talk to you for the next 30 minutes
no i don’t know anything about affect theory, myself, Blackness, or fanon

give all my time away to those who aren’t even concerned
thinking about what today could have been if i said no
but i didn’t mean it
i usually mean what i say in between what i said and what you understand
stay saying something you hearing differently
when i feel like i’m always telling you where i’m at if you only listen
lean into it and i’m always only on display
just hiding in place sight
shouting lingering lounging but loving you

i just need some time with you
some of you inside me
but now that you’re away i feel that you’re gone
so i got time


my body is a labored hotel
my body is a hotel of labor
my body labored the hotel
the hotel labored my body
my body bodied my body
i’m embodied by my body
my body can’t body
i’m bodied


if my body was the vessel
is the vessel
was the vessel
i’d have some autonomy over
under the weight of it all i found my desire to be more
to see what i wanted as less of a material construction
but more as a material to construct
i wanted to be comfortable
but comfort exists purely as an exercise for gain, an incentive
a commodity
but what i didn’t know i came to know as something
i didn’t trust myself with before
time taught me that i don’t know shit
time ain’t shit
but now my body is a vessel
my mind
my time
all on and in my mind

Issue 17