NaPoWriMo – 30 Poems for 30 Days

I finally did it! 30 poem in 30 days! Been chasing this jant since my early 20s and I’ve finally done it. Anyway, below are the 30 unedited poems written for Napowrimo 2022. I hope you enjoy!

“Eye” by Paula G. Akinwole

Day 1
Please, don’t ask me to say sorry
I won’t
I’m the not sorry type
I don’t break under pressure
Barely fold
Unwilling to compromise
Reared up in concrete and molasses
Stronger than neighborhood bullies and predators
Have had to hold my own amongst the big boys
Where apologies are referees
To fights between play cousins
And ice cream be the ice breakers
When mothers and teenagers disagree
We’ve seen what it’s like when we beg
Say I love you to soften the blow
Heap coals to the fire
My bad our way out of bad
I’m good our way out of good
Find truths in the opposition to convivence ourselves that someone is owed an “I’m Sorry”
Not me
I’m not
I don’t have any sympathy to give
No folded palms for repenting
Or glass filled shoes for atonement
I’m not apologetic or sorry
Or forgivable

Day 2
Me, being of sound body and mind, am aware that neither my body or mind are sound. They are, in fact, touched. They are smell, sight, taste but not sound.
My body has been touched by more hands than I’d like to name. Some who were welcomed guest to an unkempt home filled with chores and half finished projects. Others were intruders. Body snatchers, I claimed, once lay claim to my body when I wasn’t looking and I don’t remember how I got that scar
My mind ain’t sound but of smell. Wiffs of a cologne that I hoped to never smell again. Memories of grandmas kitchen in Highland Park. Hints of rotten flesh when things are coming undone. My mind been warning me for a while that she don’t work the same way no more. She knows things even without gut telling her first. She decides on things event without discussing it with heart.
Body been a sight for sore eyes. Body been in the mirror everyday changing and rearranging. Stretching, texturing, breaking. My body thinks it can just change. Thinks maybe I’m too attached to how we were we we were nine, before ten. Thinks maybe when I look in the mirror, I’m not seeing what’s really there. Sometimes I think I’ve never seen what’s there.
My mind tasted of fame once and never came back to earth. Been thinking about what what have happened if I had ran to Texas or Ohio or Japan when I had the chance. My mind wanders like that, far away from home. I’m afraid these taste may untether us. They say the first bite taste just like the last but my mind isn’t convinced.
Me, being of sound body and mind sounds too much like approval. Like wantings and admittance. These unraveled bits of a woman masquerading as a whole being might be found out if I say I’m sound. Might even have to sign over the truth to someone who believes every lie I’ve ever told. I’m uncomfortable. But if you’re of sound mind, you might be uncomfortable too.

Day 3
I woke up at the bottom of a mountain
My shoes were missing, my stockings were torn and stuffed in my pants pocket, my hair was undone
Throat itchy, I couldn’t talk
I looked around for my keys, wallet, phone
Only found my pills
Didn’t realize I was missing my memory until I was already half way back up
Realizing that I do this often
Fall from the top of the mountain
Forgetting how I got down there
Always more broken than the last time
But always willing to get back up

Day 4
The lady at Wawa say I’m cute
I say awww
She ask me where I got my overalls
I tell her
She says she is afraid to wear something like that
Something that will accentuate her belly
Afraid people will ask her if she’s pregnant
Afraid people will call her brave instead of cute
I smile, thank her and
I tell her you can always set those people on fire
My belly is bigger than hers
I didn’t notice when it when it was flatter
But now
After having consumed my childhood fears
Tasted every emotion I felt
Sat uninterrupted for 1 year in a dark cave
It sticks out
Even under peplums
Like Mr. Sun coming out to play
It hangs over my belt
I tuck it
Strap it
Fold it
Bop it
And when it grows, I release it
At dinner tables even
My belly, it has streets from being traveled
Potholes and speed bumps along the highways
She says she’s afraid people will ask her if she’s pregnant
I tell her I have two babies my vagina has never met
My stomach housed them like midnight prayer service
Held them so fiercely that the imprint of their kicks are still etched into the walls
It’s been nailed shut now but there’s a window at the edge of my belly where my children climbed out of
both unveiling to wait for someone to unlock the door
If they ask you if you’re pregnant
Before you are, while you are, after you gave your belly to get them here
Know that you can wear whatever you want
Overalls that put your belly on display with two buttons and a zipper
Bells and whistles and glaring objectivity
Or crop tops that show your map and the road you traveled
But if it’s a day where you prefer not to have been asked
And you just wanna rub your belly in peace
You can grab gasoline, a lighter or match, and set that rude nosey hungry bastard on fire
They can’t mind your business while they’re putting out flames
Or, as the girl at the next counter says while ringing up a customer who appears to love her belly too,
You can run em over with your car

Day 5
When my son is 5
And he tells me he’s a big boy now
I hope that with no hesitation
He ask me to open the jar he can’t
Or grab something too high for him to reach
When he is 15
And the angst of middle school to high school
The crust of know it all and a pipsqueak
I hope that fill of giggles
He’ll tell me who he likes and ask me to help him pick out a Valentine
When my son is 21
And the loom of adulthood shadows him
I hope that with no trepidation
He tells me his a few dollars short of his apartment deposit and can I loan him the rest
When my son is 30
And it’s been a few weeks since I last saw him
But he’s got big news and stories of adventure
I hope that with full pride
He doesn’t seek my approval
And knows my love is without condition
When my son is 60
And has written poems of his own about the lives of the people he’s loved
I hope that with no warning
He remembers mornings like this one
Where he’s one years old
Laying in bed beside me
Stretching and yawning as the sun peaks in on his face
I’m rubbing his back with my hand
I’m praying a good life over him
And making plans to give him the future he deserves
That thoughts of my love will comfort him
And with full confidence
He knows how I feel right now

Day 6
Sweat between my thighs
Leaves a stain on the black chair
I’m embarrassed when I stand
A small strike of evidence
That my crack was sweating
Perfect girls beside me have dry asses
Know that 70 degrees
Plus cotton leggings and cotton dresses
Require baby powder
Or an outfit change
So they stand without looking down at the seat
for imperfections
I however
Had 3 glasses of the complimentary wine
Forgot to put my good dress up clothes in the dryer
And don’t own baby powder
My thighs have a pool of sweat between them that will leak past my butt and onto the seat
At least no one will take my chair while I’m in the restroom
At least the perfect girls can treat themselves to dessert

Day 7
Tap tap
Step Up
Iook down
Everyday, as many times a day
As you need to convivence yourself.
Push & pull
Everyday, as many times a day
As you need to convivence yourself.
Pretend not to be here
Pretend not to be anywhere
And do that everyday, as many times a day
As many times a day
As you need to convivence yourself
You are okay

Day 8
The art gallery
That is made of the things I keep hidden in my heart
Is splattered with Polaroids, 4 x 8 canvases purchased from dollar tree, and sculptures made from chewed gum.
The guest of honor,
I am given the privilege of a private guided tour
Told I get to approve or reject what gets displayed
Before I open to the public
I tip the tour guide my last in exchange for discretion
I’m shown lovers first
Snap shots of every person I’ve loved, thought I loved, didn’t love, loved me
Each of them captured from the nose down
Dressed in togas with their toes covered in sand
Most bodies I don’t recognize.
Their faces and names as absent as my memory of them
But others are like 3D impressions burned into my mind.
They light up as I walk pass
Recognize that I recognize them and peep down to make eye contact.
I avoid it.
This exhibit can remain open, I tell my your guide.
This about me they must know first.
Next, I’m given the key to a room labeled Him
And I know it’s not my son for he’s exalted in another way.
The outside of the room has layers of lock and chain.
All winding around each other
All affixed at different points and sewn together with iron.
I hide they key behind a sculpture of my latest nightmare
I have no desire to enter this room.
Along the hallways
Are lines from poems
Written on napkins or church bulletins
Framed in gold dipped appetizers from iHop
Hanging on the walls with price tags too outrageous for anyone to purchase
My family has their own exhibit
Band tees that have been turned into text book covers
My husbands laugh is a sensory hall
My son’s smile replaces the light fixtures
Every show open mic I’ve ever attended is looped on a vhs playing from a science class projection screen
The shapes of my body are cast like shadows on the walls
My trauma is a glory hole in the bathroom
My accomplishments, a rolodex propped beside a plastic toy phone
And in the air
But filling our lungs
Eight thousand and thirteen
Breaths of a blue butterfly
If you look closely
He’s still but a cocoon hanging safely from the highest rafter
But like the sweetest poison
He fills my heart
The tour guide ask me if I’ve seen enough
I lie
I ask when this exhibit will open
They lie
We take a selfie before I go
We agree that this
A picture of me learning to look at me unashamed
deserves to go on the wall too.

Day 9
I can hear my son crying
When no one and nothing is there
I can’t tell if it’s because to miss someone
Without going to be with them
You have to know they are still around
Or because I’ve still not imagined a world without

Day 10
Plastic plants won’t bloom
Least the heartbreak don’t last long
Like dead red roses

Day 11
The food in the refrigerator is going bad. The unicorns in my ADHD group said I should write a list of everything I bought, it’s expiration date, and where it’s located in my refrigerator. But I keep forgetting to write the list.
My numbers get higher everyday. My weight, my blood sugar, my blood pressure. And after doing the good work of eating salads and apples all day, I realize that it’s stress that is killing me, not cake.
Who told me the house needed to be spotless for guest? Like the landlord is on the way and my mother is playing DMX on a Saturday morning in the 90s, I panic. The dishes aren’t washed, the walkways aren’t clear, and I smell. Smell like I’ve been mothering without a break, clocking in without a clock out. I feel my neck muscles stiffening and my toes spreading. I need water.
At 955, I still have a scarf on, my nightgown, a hungry baby on my knee, I haven’t taken my pills. I feel the wave coming in. My work meeting starts in 5 minutes. The babysitter is an hour late. I make his bottle while putting in earnings. I unwrap my hair while propping him up in a corner. I make my boss laugh between metformin and labetalol. When the meeting ends, my husband has already come in and grabbed the baby, I cry. Remind myself that it’s my birthday and I can do that if I wanna.
From the other room, I hear him telling his father how blessed he is. That he’s not sorry, a day taken off work to spend with his son so wife can work is the better of reasons to take a day off. I’m coming out of the bathroom that I locked myself in now. I’m gonna eat another apple and finish this report. Then after dropping off the baby with his grandpa tonight, I’m gonna celebrate my birthday.

Day 12
My son fights sleep
He’s only been in the world about 400 days
He’s rubbing his eyes
Whining and crying
Trying to make us laugh
Crawling on my face
Knocking stuff off tables
Banging on the windows
Anything to prevent sleep
Even now as I write this
His nap time was noon and it’s now 430
He wants to experience the world
That’s why he doesn’t give in to sleep
He hasn’t been on earth and wants to explore
Or he hasn’t been on earth in a long time and now, he wants to see what he missed.
So he fights the tire to stay awake and see as many things as he can see
Touch as many things as he can touch
Taste as many things as he can taste
Even if it is that’s the cotton he’s pulled from the couch cushions
And I’m jealous
I’ve grown a bit weary
Comfortable with not exploring
Content with not having touched more, seen more, tasted more
I’ve never been a traveler
I don’t wander far from home
I can’t imagine much of anything that would overwhelm me with excitement enough to go do
Even now, I’m tired
Looking forward to getting off work so I can sleep
I hope my son doesn’t lose it
The desire to explore and discover
I hope I catch up

Day 13
Made of ginger spice and things both naughty and nice
An towering presence who could humble you with wit but pull you in close
Captain of her own ship, she said courses far beyond her years
I am the offspring of hidden secrets and treasures
Another year without you in the flesh but so much of you in my soul.

Day 14
With absolutely no expectations,
I woke
Thankful to do just that
I kissed my son and my husband
They pray over me
I watch my son grow bounds before my eyes
Like a tree growing its first twig
Let’s go of my hand with ease
And I cry
My husband sends me flying
Tattoos his name across my heart
Gives me gift and game
As a token of a day without limits
He makes me lunch
My son and I watch mysteries and record Tik toks
I cry some more as my son says
I ruh yew
Be dressed for dinner
My husband reminds me
I nap first
Thankful for a day
The day interrupted by an emergency stop
A broken microphone
In ill placed parking lot
Undone hair and half on shoes
I agree to do my part
Walk into a dark room with persons crowded
Stomach growling
My day grows leaps and bounds
My tattoo tingles
My prayers actualized
I cry again
A night of surprises among friends

Day 15
Some days
After having done everything wrong
I kiss my son’s forehead

Who decides who gets which blessings
Maybe it’s a lottery
A roll of the dice
A luck of the draw
Some cosmic game of life in which a deity has pulled a card for me
That says
She kisses her son’s forehead every night
I don’t know if I win the game or not
I have all but forgotten about the roads traveled to get me here
The finish line everyone is racing towards
I forgot it was there
And like clockwork it’s my turn again
And the deity has pulled my card again
And it says
She kisses her son’s forehead every night
And I swear I’m winning

Day 16
If this is…
Then that would mean…
And that would explain….
Have I been wrong all along?
See, I thought….
Which compliments the idea that…..
All leading up to…..
Which has been the point I’ve been trying to make!
I’ll confess that…
Knowing all along about…..
Could really be the reason for….
Which really would explain a few things.
As long as there is….
And everyone…..
It’s easy to….
Then there should be no problems understanding it now.

Day 17
The flower gets plucked one day
Not by the roots but cut at the stem
Placed in a glass jar where it is pretty
But dead
Watered but no way to drink it
The flower appears to be flourishing
But I know better
This flower is already dead
The flower died in the hospital room
I dressed it up myself
Clichéd the flower with advice about living your best life
Unaware that I was red dye for the pretending
We laughed about our stories
Discussed how we’d start living after this
Made promises of mulch and sunshine
I went back to my garden
The flower went into a vase
I watched it pretend to be alive
Its glass cloudy
Its stem covered in mold
Leaves withering and falling apart
It laughing and medicating it’s way
Through obligations and responsibilities
A dying thing wishing it would die already
And me, wondering how it hadn’t
I stayed far away
Didn’t wanna be near the flower when the last petal fell
When it could no longer pretend to be pretty
When it’s evident that the flower is no longer
And it’s vase is empty
That’s a pain I can’t bare
I’ve been trying to find a way to give more
To the flower, show it roots
Remind it of petals that have seen the sun
And how even in glass, the flower can be a centerpiece
Or pressed, a treasure
I’ll have to put on my boots for this
Stop tip toeing and stomp the grounds to wake him
He hasn’t been plucked yet
He’s still got time

Day 18
Most days I’d rather not pray
Rather accept the news as it is
what it is
Knowing that in all the power I wield
I can’t
Petitioning feels like pride
Begging feelings like manipulation
Bargaining feels like sacrifice
I wouldn’t know where to begin
to convivence anyone all powerful
that power be spent on hearing me
But when the moments are too big
And leaning on the everlasting
Feels like might as well
I pray
They require an uncomfortable editing for me
Careful calculations
Strategic wording
The knowing that I am desperate
And willing to believe
Or worship
Or sacrifice
Most days nothing feels worth that
But when it does
I begin with…
I’d rather not be praying

Day 19
Step off the scale
It’s your third time today
These moments of joy and frustration
You feed on them like Adderall
Smiling every point pound you go down
Pulling out your hair at every milli it goes up
Your weight is not fluctuating
You are
Yoyoing these moments
Dragging yourself in and out of bliss
None of these numbers are real
None of your effort is tangible
None of this worry will solve what you’re issue is
So step off the scale
There are things to experienced right now
And life to enjoy in this moment
You’re gonna waste too many of them trying to get skinny for the right ones

Day 20
I’ve dreamed the end of the earth many times
In one, two moons rose and collide with one another
In another, God broke him promise and flooded the earth again
In another, there was simply no tomorrow
Yet I’m never afraid.
If we all go together
there’s nothing to mourn
and no one to do it
If the world doesn’t end
One of us has to die first
Unless they let us go together
100 of hundreds years old
We, surrounded by all we made
Close our eyes together
And go
Like two moons colliding
Or God keeping his promise
And there’d simply be no tomorrow

Day 21
The fangs come out
even when the claws go away
The teeth are sharper than knives
The wing span of my mother
covers generations of sons
There’s no where to run or hide
The bruises are warnings
The trip is a gift
You don’t want to see me bite
I don’t play bout mine
Please fall in line
The claws been ready to fight

Day 22
Want consideration
Don’t want to tell you what to consider
Want communication
Don’t wanna explain how to do it
Want foreplay
Don’t want to tell you where my spot is
Want to be loved
Don’t wanna tell you my love language
Want to be loved without tragedy
Don’t wanna unpack my trauma
Want grace
Without mercy
Want time
Without a day off
Want spontaneity
Planned perfectly
Want a surplus of clean bath towels
Want a kitchen full of acrylic Tupperware like you see on tiktok
I want clothes that folks themselves
Food that cooks itself
And doesn’t effect the scale
I want desert that want run my blood sugar up
And a jump that won’t run my pressure up
And a house that never gets dirtied up
And all the answers for everything all the time
But also
I want you
And this messy life
And this loud family
Complete with daddy son music lessons
Dead flowers we forget to water on every window seal
Waiting on line for the same bathroom cause it’s the favorite
Lunch break rendezvous
And inside jokes
Out parenting each other
Out surprising each other
Out hearing reach other
Out giving each other
Or loving each other
Out living each other
Want us
Don’t want to know what it’s like without us

Day 23
This will be the poem that helps me remember
In case the reason starts to fade away
Or I find myself lost in a trip I never come back from
In the event of an emergency
Or the originals get burned up on a house fire
I’d tattoo it on my chest if needed
So every mirror I am like in I’m reminded
Or hide it in my sock drawer
So serendipity will help me find it one day
But also in this poem
So those who read it will be held accountable
And maybe even responsible
To help me remember
I love myself.

Day 24
On an imaginary farm
On an imaginary countryside
There’s an imaginary barn
Painted with invisible hues of red and white
Sits an imaginary stable
Open its imaginary doors
And look in the last imaginary stall
At the end of the imaginary hall
And the you’ll find
Full of pseudo pride and an inflated ego
An imaginary high horse.
You sitting on top.
Endowed with permission from people who spoiled
And lovers who’ve spoon feed
You found something that doesn’t exist to exalt you
Like books about inalienable powers
Or fictions where the asshole gets the girl without transforming
You’ve created a formula in which you are right and I am wrong
No variables or hypothesis
You come incorrect
And I fall back
First thing in the morning
Twitter fingers and Facebook thugging
You can’t be told nothing
And I’m supposed to take this blow
Like an ant thankful for the squashing
Hear you ramble your righteousness
And pray to it.
Even when you’re right
I can’t hear you over the shouting of your ego
I can’t understand what you’re saying with that pride disguised as experience
It suffocates any goodness behind the intention
I’m behind your intentions
And I’m suffocating now
Your imaginary horse has never left it’s stall
It doesn’t walk or gallop or race
It sits
Not willing to lower it’s head to eat or drink
It’s dead
And if you climb on it again,
I’ll make glue of you both

Day 25
A grieving mother screams
Her tears have dried
They are a cloud beneath her feet
Her face only breaks to yell into oncoming traffic
Or holler at the kids stealing beer out of the corner store
She delivers stories from her throat
Visions of slain black boys
And closed cases
Of mishandled city funds
And uncaring officials
She’s been wailing since the city
Divided the districts
Kept the white folks safe
And the black people short staffed
A historic black town
Cracking under the pressure
Of politicians who don’t give a damn
The city waiting to be tuned over
Waiting to run folks out
Jack up prices
Install cat lounges and breweries
Then swept the name of dead black boys under newly concrete covered cemeteries
She wails
The murder rate has been climbing
She screams
The streets are no longer safe
She hollers
The people have been unmoved
Unsure how to stop the killing
Just leave the Burg
She hollers at me
Sees my son in the backseat
Just leave. They don’t care about him here.

Day 26
When I was 10, I was I was convinced that a dead man was still fresh in the space between the walls of our apartment. He had been dead for a very long time but his body never decayed. Sometimes, flies would sit on the vent guard and I would think that maybe he’s finally starting to rot. The last to go would be his eyeballs. One day he would not be able to see me any longer but by then, I would have already stopped caring that he watched.

Day 27
My mother said calm down, I’m fine. You know he’s not all there. Just pray and stay away.
But before that
He told me my mom died
But before that
He left voicemails
But before that
I told him to stop calling me
But before that
He told Facebook he had goons & was willing to use them
But before that
I had a dream he would kill me
But before that
He believed his neighbor over me that I was trying to get him arrested
But before that
I sent the police to his house
But before that
He had gone missing for weeks
But before that
He told me he had cancer
But before that
He ran out of money
But before that
He lost his wallet and phone again
But before that
I helped him get his own apartment
But before that
I had a dream he would kill me
But before that
He poisoned my house with a spray to cover up the weed
But before that
He smoked weed around my baby
But before that
Her broke things, forgot things, did stupid things
But before that
I realized he had never been cared for before
But before that
He moved into my house
But before that
He told me she hurt him and stole all good money
But before that
He caught a bus to VA to be with his mother
But before that
She kicked him out, he was homeless
But before that
He moved in with a friend who lied on him
But before that
He was grieving too
But before that
I hadn’t seen him in 20 years
But before that
My father died and left my brother with nothing but me

Day 28
Momma said black women can do it all
So we do
Momma said find a man you can relax with
So you don’t have to
Sounded like don’t be too smart so they can be smarter
Don’t be too strong so they can be stronger
Don’t make it obvious you know how or they won’t
Proving to myself I could
Knowing that I would
Angry because I did
And did and do
New Rule!
If you don’t do it thinking I will
I won’t
If you won’t do it think I would
I can’t
If you can’t do it thinking I should
I don’t
And this isn’t letting him be smart
This is being smart enough not to exhaust myself
This isn’t letting him be strong
This is reserving my strength
This isn’t proving I know what I’m doing
This is letting you prove you do

Day 29
I Karen
Better than most Karen’s will
Want discounts
Demand retribution
Tell staff when restrooms aren’t clean
Or when the service wasn’t up to par
I can
Get all our meals free when only mines had a hair in it
Get front row seats when I only paid for the back
Will ask for names
Call back with complaints
Right a letter to the CEO
Throw my weight around
Fear that the why is racism
Concern that the reason is femininity
Decided that stereotypes are stereotypical for spaces like this on streets like this where I’m spectacle and species
I don’t mean to Karen
It comes out
Having seen enough white ladies get what I once swallowed
Receive apologizes where I was supposed to be appreciative
No longer though
I get the implications
Making minimum wagers workers work like they give a damn about this company
I won’t Karen
But I might Kiehsa
Be black and proud and demand respect
Apologize for no one including myself

Day 30
At the end
I pray I will have treated myself with kindness
Respected my body
Nourished my mind
And saved my soul
I hope to reflect knowing someone is reflecting on me too
Something named after me
A building or a grandchild
Something different because I spoke up
I pray there’s lineage and legacy
Mantels to carry and batons to pass
And radical uprising
I hope I’m known for being a bit wild and fun
Today, on the last day of 30 days of poetry
I gifted myself with a tattoo
An open book
Blank pages
A life still being written

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