Olatunde Osinaike

Due Diligence


             to claim history is some sort of weathered
joke is to say this is a déjà vu in which i am not unlucky,
             stratagem just sacrilege enough & always
                             has been since the last best war
             in the budget, always has been the grime on the leftmost
                             machine in the laundromat, there’s bleach as veneer
             everywhere & the worn porcelain floor shines like a hazard should
in this case, the proprietor tells me to be
                             careful, a tip which is only the half of it

                             \\

                                           of the other half
                             all i have to do is watch my step –
order my durable in whatever
                                           word that will have me –
            which is good since my bones
                                           know this routine know i’ve been reduced
                             caricature by caricature
                                           cracked over easy know how
            i wished myself exempt all last year:
every word is opportunity for revision
            or derision, just depends
                             on how you’d like
                                           to press your lips to foment, what more
                             can you make of a mouth

                             \\

            even without an incentive,
                             my body is light enough
to be flammable & flame enough
            to wash away the night
                                           of what is left
all that i am is a tear without scent,
            some oxygen but mostly time
                             & this is what keeps me guessing
& it’s not like we haven’t been here before
                             i can make a handle out of anything
                                           including my tongue
but this is not to say
                                           i can twist the heat
                             into some sane covenant

                             \\

                             let me begin once more
between two-way traffic
                             in the hood staring at the vending machine
                             through the rain-stained window  
foot over a misplaced penny
                             & the tv humming in devotion
                 what i mean is we all have the need
to start again the sky for tomorrow
                                           what i mean is i just left
                                                            the family dollar across the street
nine minutes later with a mop
                             that only cost me seventy cents & some empathy
                 with a caloric sense of humor   

                             \\

                                           so say next
                                           say the heart knows what it wants
                                                            say leverage
                 say disaster is natural     again
                             but also say how dirty our skin isn’t
                                           & the water isn’t washing
                             the way we’ve come to expect
                 say the floor isn’t clean yet
say i paid for this
                             say i paid for this

Olatunde Osinaike

Olatunde Osinaike is a Nigerian-American poet originally from the West Side of Chicago. He is Black, still learning and eager nevertheless. An alumnus of Vanderbilt University, his most recent work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Apogee, HEArt, Hobart, FreezeRay, Glass, Up the Staircase, and Split Lip, among other publications.

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