What Black Women Have Let Me Get Away With by Olatunde Osinaike

snapbacks    sandpapered hellos    and romeo pubescence   
sunbathing   and again in their presence   every bobby pin i have not
picked up   and every premise i do    a pendulum for a tongue    

a braided decency    sweet potato pie and kisses frequent as allowance    
a turtled neck for the times   i have been afraid     to stick one out for them     
minding my own business the occasional pardon when i have not

listened hard enough    a lifetime supply of calisthenics  and my grandma
has had me    watch Something the Lord Made   more times than i can count
the last time we did we talked about   child support   how my mother

has never asked for any   how she’s thankful that her daughter
has been able    to handle it on her own     but whatever happened to accountability   
and there’s a scene    in the film   where the black doctor has a nightmare   

that the sutures didn’t grow with the heart    and it’s ironic
because the black doctor was hired   as an assistant at the same school
i enrolled in    as the story goes black people    were seen as less than

so they employed him as an janitor    in the meantime he had to go through
the back door to get into his own lab     and can you imagine
what his wife must have felt    what she must’ve readied for

when he returned home     my grandma told me my mother
never cooked more   than when my father would come from   his bus route
i would cry     and cry surely     my mother would pick me up

in her arms    with the stove still aflame    as the story goes i have not
really talked to my father ever since    he entered the wrong
bedroom    last week my mother told me he still regrets it    but i wonder

about accountability   how my amen may not ever be enough   so i am still
learning how to   ensure my own    so i stretch my arms across the small frame
of her back    and i am able    acquaintance once more   and still something   still

Contributor Notes

Originally from the West Side of Chicago, Olatunde Osinaike is a Nigerian-American poet and software developer. He is the author of the chapbooks Speech Therapy, which was a winner in the Atlas Review’s 2019 Chapbook Series (forthcoming) and The New Knew (Thirty West). A Best of the Net, Bettering American Poetry, and Pushcart Prize nominee, he is a finalist for the Southeast Review’s 2019 Gearhart Poetry Contest and placed 2nd for the 2019 Editor's Prize at RHINO Poetry. His most recent work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in publications such as Prelude, Puerto del Sol, Winter Tangerine, Cosmonauts Avenue, and the Columbia Poetry Review, as well as in the anthologies Best New Poets, 20.35 Africa, and New Poetry from the Midwest. He is currently on poetry staff at The Adroit Journal and an incoming candidate for Human-Computer Interaction and Information Systems at Johns Hopkins. For more, visit www.olatundeosinaike.com.