Isaac Akanmu is a Nigerian American from Staten Island, NY. Now living in Charlotte, NC, Isaac is the winner of the 2023 Charlotte GoodLit Fellowship. His poetry chapbook, not belonging anywhere, is available with Bottlecap Press (2022). His words also appear in Jellyfish Review, Posit Journal, Olney Magazine, and elsewhere. Connect with Isaac at isaacakanmu.com and on social media (@insteadofisaac).
on after-school programs
1. where none of the hoops have nets and the tar melts under the spring sun. 2. where the program directors are old heads blooming from park benches.3. where the program counselors are kids in your grade. 4. where skipping school adds years to their adolescence. 5. where your mother told you not to go. 6. where your clip-on tie blows like chives in the winds of your shucks and jives. 7. where your basketball kicks are your uniform shoes and vice versa.8. where the backboards are loud and the backpacks are empty.9. where you can build a house with your bricks. 10. where you all blame the double rims. 11. where you miss much more than layups.12. where much more than your jumpshots are broken.13. where twenty-one takes forever because your friend always cheats.14. where twenty-one takes forever but still isn’t long enough.15. where twenty-one is more than a game. 15. where you take breaks to eat honey buns and talk neighborhood honeys. 15. where the sports drinks are your favorite flavors of arizona iced tea.15. where the cans are named after fruits but contain zero percent fruit juice. 15. where your friend asks, 15. where is arizona anyway?15. where you cannot fathom distance. 15. where all you know is this five-block radius. 16. where that doesn't bother you. 17. where you ignore the sunset on your glistening skin. 18. where you don't mind staying forever. 19. where the times have changed, but the day never ends. 20. where the street lights don't tell you to go home but ask, 21. where will you go from here?
we reel cool
after Reec and Gwendolyn Brooks
like blades of grass dancing in rough evening drafts,we reel cool.standing five-fifths in full frame,we reel, each of us, as we're picked and cropped, shared then consumed in mega bites.we cool, the us.our images cash cropsbut our frames mere tenants toiling, scattering the seeds of our likenessin a stranger's soil.reel cool like growing followingson rented landor like photo-syntheticsin summer.cool.