After Jennifer Perrine
We do not want the hate, no ghost boys wandering about cities that should be home, no sticks calling the name of love, no mother giving up on boys so soft the earth knows them as breath, no breaking of effeminate boys into houses filled with the pain of being strong, no song calling on the sky for fire, no fire speaking the language of burning skin, no empty rooms in the stomach of boys filled with love
we do not want you turning your back as queer boys are filled with straws, as they are made dry, as they are prepared to be sacrificed to a God whose body is filled with smoke, as they know fire as a ritual of death, as they know love as the precursor of burnt bones, as they run into the dark to survive, as they navigate between shadows to know love, as they grow used to their fingers searching for honey in a house without light, as they yearn for love, as they wander deep into questions that leave the body sore
we do not want the tears, no mother dragging us to church, no altar filled with the smell of burning incense, no prophet clad in a white gown, no Bible raised high like a sword, no whip coming down hard on bare backs, no boy holding his lover’s name in a song of pain, no words of deliverance hanging over beautiful heads, no mother fighting back tears, no boy bathing with water filled with prayers and leaves, no boy walking back home with shame, no boy washing his tongue to be safe, no boy burning his skin to know the taste of death
we do not want pity, no eyes boring holes in our bodies, no eyes raising us into museum pieces, no boy mocking our bodies, no officers arresting boys for love, no one asking how a kiss feels like, no one hitting batons on soft joints, no one giving us freedom because of bribes, no one opening our bodies into memories of storms, no one driving us out of our bones, no one scaring us with fourteen years of gaol, no fear, nothing.
Romeo Oriogun’s poems have appeared in Praxis, Afridiaspora, African Writer, Brittle Paper, and elsewhere. He won the Brunel International African Poetry Prize for 2017 and is the author of Burnt Men, an electronic chapbook published by Praxis.