I sing of black boys, brown boys, sweet boys
—after Jussie Smollett
I make no apologies for the colour of my skin,
what I wear on my bones is not a plea. though
you call my body a dark house, unfitting for the light.
the song in my throat is not a request for your hate,
the flowers I grow on the earth inside me is not a debate with you.
I ask when it stops being sin for black boys
to be seen, when the time ripens enough for coloured boys
to walk the streets of America and not be walled,
and not be raised, and not be questioned, and not
be touched till touching itself becomes a synonym for
burning. I ask when the black, brown and red
blood of coloured martyrs becomes a bright-enough sign
on our doorposts to make the angels of death pass over.
but until then I sing.
I sing of black boys, brown boys, sweet boys.
I sing of boys who, though stretched and thorned
on all ends, though broken like slashed water, have
forged themselves a voice from the language of fear.
I sing of boys who like god, boys—gods, have
painted themselves into a rainbow in the sky,
this sky, you call it your sky,
to remind you that we are here, that
your hands around the neck of our voices is
not enough to tie our tongues, that
your palms slapping fire into our bones is
not death, it is a request for our singing.
By Ernest Ogunyemi
Ernest Ogunyemi is an eighteen year-old writer from Nigeria. His stories and poems have appeared in Kalahari, Acumen UK, Litro UK, Literally Stories, The Rising Phoenix, and many more. His story was recently featured in Erotic Africa: The Sex Anthology, published by Brittle Paper, and he was recently selected to participate in the Goethe-Institute Afro Young Adult workshop. He has a short story collection and novel in progress.