Time Passes


I stand here among these green barely grown trees,

I am young and strong, while they shudder in the breeze.

I am awake and aware, fresh and bright,

For now dawns the morning light.




I stand here among these green giants on the hill,

I have traversed the earth,

While they have been here standing still.

I am spent, tired from life and all its fight

As I approach the purplish rays of advancing twilight.




I do not stand among those ancient woods under the sun,

For though they stand solidly I, fleeting ephemeral human, am gone.

I am asleep in the earth, lost to sight…

And now falls the night.





I lie on my back, look up at the clouds and wish….

I wish I could catch me a cloud and sail back to my yesteryears;

When the grass was green, and laughter tinkled like shining bells;

When the air was sweet as orange juice and there were no tears.


I would catch me a cloud and sail back to days gone by,

To running feet and times that knew no bothering cares,

To playful games in the rain soaked joyful playground,

To times when tears lasted but a second and there were no such things as fears.



I’d catch me a cloud, so I could go to a place where flowers always bloomed,

Where hearts delighted in falling leaves and daily dying sunbeams.

I would catch me a cloud, for I would love to leave this plane of reality,

And go to a land where we were all happy and no one cried…it seemed.



Sometimes I write in blood

Sometimes I write pain

Sometimes I write tears

Sometimes I write remembered fear

Sometimes I write powerlessness

Sometimes I write the trauma that lives in my bones

Sometimes I write the shadows in my soul

Sometimes I write wounding memories etched deeply on my brain

So sometimes I write in blood.


Sometimes I write the sounds of bullets,

Sometimes I write the blood and brains on the roads

Sometimes I write walking past the blood soaked mattress that carried his bullet-ridden body

Sometimes I write the months that mattress sat outside the Health Centre,

Sometimes I write smelling boli and groundnut

Smelling the stench of warm faeces wafting from behind the bushes of PG Hall

Sometimes I write with screaming in my ears.

Screams merging in my head,

While the other me huddles in the dark

Closing her ears to the sounds running feet, the sounds of trampled bodies

Sometimes I can still see the cotton wool pushed into his nose and his ears,

Sometimes I write his mortuary blackened skin

Sometimes I still see his feet sticking out of the coffin,

Throughout the service, his feet sticking out of the undersized coffin

He was over six feet tall, soft spoken, his life stolen from him in a moment

In another moment his phone

So sometimes I write in blood


Sometimes I write with the fumes of teargas choking out my breath

Sometimes I write gasping for air

Sometimes I write holding the bullet that split his skull

His blood bursting forth, drenching his shirt, dead before he even touched the ground

Sometimes I write the columns of smoke that heralded the death of hundreds…

Hundreds travelling from Ibadan who never saw home again,

Sometimes i write the wails of the dirges of candlelit processions

How many candlelight processions for dead students can YOU survive?

I survived them all, at least some of me did.

So sometimes I write in blood.


Sometimes I write his body arching through the air

I never knew his name,

but between Abuja and Abaji I saw his body break beneath a speeding bus

Sometimes I write through a hazy smoke-filled gaze

From Modakeke to Ife, from Offa to Erinle

Sometimes I write a thousand burnt houses

Sometimes I write through the sleepless night

Sometimes I write the fear keeping me awake

How many home invasions can YOU survive?


Sometimes I write her.

Sometimes I write her body, this prison which is all you see

Sometimes I write her pain,

Sometimes I write the death of her soul,

Sometimes I write the husk left behind,

Sometimes I write the feet that trample over her,

Sometimes I write the hands that touch her, unwanted, unbidden,

Sometimes I write the hands that strike her,

Sometimes I write the hands that are meant to love her,

Sometimes I write her oppression, I write her forced smile,

Sometimes I write her

But we survive.

A part of us survives.

So sometimes

Sometimes I write

I write

I write in blood

Sometimes I write in blood

So that someday, sometime I can write her freedom.

I want to write our freedom.

Freedom and Love and Peace

oppression is an anchor

always pressing downwards

like a dagger in the heart.


the big boss bullies the big man

who bullies the small man

who bullies his wife

who bullies their child

who bullies the small children

who bully themselves

like a dagger in the heart




the nation bullies the poor ones

who bully the different ones

who bully the more different ones

who bully the more more different ones

who bully themselves

like a dagger in the heart



the big nations bully the small nations

who bully the smaller nations

who bully their people

who bully their women

who bully other women

who bully themselves

like a dagger in the heart





turn around

turn around that message of oppression

turn around

divide the multiplicity of oppression

turn around

lift someone up instead


love is a sunbeam

peace is like sunlight

and freedom, freedom like the skylark, flies upward

freedom flies upward


Child, You Are Black

This is not a poem
I have no pretty words
To talk about death, despair and discrimination
This is for those Africans who think their pain is greater…


The same narrative that leaves black bodies

Under the waters of the Mediterranean and the Middle Passage,

Makes black bodies a backdrop for bullets in America,

So African governments act with impunity

They know black lives mean nothing, nothing but dust…

For Africans who think their pain is greater, know this,

They will come for your oil
Come for your gold
Come for your diamonds
Come for your cocoa
Come for your sons and daughters
Come to feel better
But they will never come for you.

Your government reads these scripts,
These scripts of contemptibility
These scripts of degradation and degeneration,
And sells you down the river for more gold in the Rolex
More lead-proofing in the Lexus

And so you run across the waters to paradise
Where you find that you are not Somali, you are black
You are not Naija, you are black
You are not Shona, you are black
You are not a warrior you are black
You learn that you are nothing, because you are black
And that is all you need to win a bullet in the brain


So for Africans who think their pain is greater
You need to see that this is the same death and despair,
The same story that confines us in poverty and pain,
The voice screaming Willie Kimani, should also wail Philando Castile,

We cannot breathe in New York, we are out of breath in Ndjamena,

Death does not kill harder in Libya than in Louisiana
This is not a contest but a war.

All voices need to know this, because
The only one who can say black lives matter
with volume and conviction is you,
For you Africans who say your pain is greater
We already breathe pain and sorrow
We already eat the agony of blackness
This is not a contest
Our pain is the same.

The struggles of Senghor are the struggles of Stokely,

The troubles of Tubman are the troubles of Tambo,
The killing of Nkrumah is the killing of King,

So let raise your voices from Johannesburg to Georgia,

From Lagos to London, from Accra to Anchorage
We are one
We are black.



Accents By Denice Frohman

my mom holds her accent like a shotgun,

with two good hands.

her tongue, all brass knuckle

slipping in between her lips

her hips, all laughter and wind clap.


she speaks a sanchocho of spanish and english,

pushing up against one another,

in rapid fire


there is no telling my mama to be “quiet,”

she don’t know “quiet.”


her voice is one size better fit all

and you best not tell her to hush,

she waited too many years for her voice to arrive

to be told it needed housekeeping.


English sits her her mouth remixed

so “strawberry” becomes “eh­strawbeddy”

and “cookie” becomes “eh­cookie”

and kitchen, key chain, and chicken all sound the same.


my mama doesn’t say “yes” she says “ah ha”

and suddenly the sky in her mouth becomes a Hector Lavoe song.


her tongue can’t lay itself down flat enough

for the English language,

it got too much hip

too much bone

too much conga

too much cuatro

to two step

got too many piano keys

in between her teeth,

it got too much clave

too much hand clap

got too much salsa to sit still


it be an anxious child wanting to

make Play­Doh out of concrete English

be too neat for her kind of wonderful.


her words spill in conversation

between women whose hands are all they got

sometimes our hands are all we got

and accents remind us that we are still

bomba, still plena


say “wepa” and a stranger becomes your hermano.

say “dale” and a crowd becomes your family reunion.


my mama’s tongue is a telegram from her mother

decorated with the coqui’s of el campo.

so even though her lips can barely stretch themselves around english,

her accent is a stubborn compass always pointing her toward home.