Two Poems

by Kwame Opoku-Duku


            I’ve been called many things by niggaz
as fearful as I, and my definition

of the holy has changed over time; the sharing
            of pain between lovers; the way we fed each other like

birds through the winter; the scent of lavender
            just over the horizon on a late summer night, after

the rain has ended, and up the block Lauryn Hill blasting
            out of the back of somebody’s car.

            And they pray that I violate. They pray to you, Lord.
I’ve been murdered by the eyes of thousands.

            Why do niggaz in New York
wear black?

            Maybe because we want to hide, to lose our bodies
and keep them, to close our eyes and forget it all.

Lord, I know ecstasy. I crave it,
            on rooftops, on the corner of 125th and St. Nich.

I hear your footsteps on the
            hardwood floor every night.

My lungs compress
            until I feel you at the door.

And I’ve burned all my confessions,
            but I should’ve sang the things I never sang.

            My definition of the holy
changes with each loss.

I once prayed to lose my body
            in a glorious way, under the

watchful eye of a ceiling fan,

there are no such things as ghosts, Child,
            only the forgotten and remembered. Blessed

be your nappy head. Blessed
            be the bitterness at your core.



i see you my son i’m looking at you i can see that
the lord wants to work through you the lord favors
you he wants you to own your own business the lord
has a woman picked out for you son the lord will
the lord willing my son guide you through the lord son
has a plan the lord wants my son he wants my son in 
mysterious ways my son the lord wants you to go to Africa
the lord is the lord is the one who can guide you through
this time son the lord lives the lord lifts up your troubles
son he wants the lord to heal you son i’m looking at you
son i see you son i’ve got chills all over lord my body lord
the lord my son my body what is it that you want my son
have you ever truly wondered what it is you have

Kwame Opoku-Duku is a poet, fiction writer, and filmmaker. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and is featured or forthcoming in the Massachusetts Review, Chicago Review of Books, Arcturus, Gigantic Sequins, Apogee, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and elsewhere. Kwame lives in New York City, and along with Karisma Price, he is a founding member of the Unbnd Collective. Find more of his work at