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detail, Alex Nwokolo, The Special One, mixed media, 2011

I Did Not Leave

Cozine Welch Jr.

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look …

I sip earl grey from a
stained plastic cup
the open window chills me
but
I dare not close it
it cools the heated temperaments
that surround me, growling,
grumbling, finding
further proof of personal slights
and insults in the
late calling of our unit
to chow
to yard
to dayroom
to gym
in the
sag of my pants
the ink on your skin
gauge in his ear
the worse or better
pronunciation of letters
in the
cultural conditioning that
positions me
above, below
allied, opposed
to you
I sip earl grey and bring
mindfulness to the fore
clear awareness
gives me clarity
of perception
an insight
into the inner side of this that,
from experience,
I know I cannot adequately translate
language is lacking
there is only a finger
pointing the way

Alex Nwokolo, The Special One, mixed media, 2011

Alex Nwokolo, The Special One, mixed media, 2011 Painting by Alex Nwokolo. Used by permission of the artist.

 

reenter

I did not reenter
As if absent from life and the living
As if I was not just up the road
Off the highway exits you know so well
On the other end of a collect call
Unaccepted
Watching the same news as you
Commercials tempting me with the same food as you
As if I wasn’t a part of the perpetual pull
Swinging through the same moods as you
I did not reenter as if
Absent from the living, the taking and giving
Partaking in this thing that marks the existing
The spark and persisting of a heart thought missing
I did not reenter as if absent
From you
As if separated by something more solid than
Societal constructs
As if these walls and such are not just
Aggregate dust
I did NOT reenter
I did not leave just became easy to overlook
Easy to forget
Waiting for the chance to see you
So you could remember that
I never left

Alex Nwokolo, Fragmented Hope, collage on canvas, 2009

Alex Nwokolo, Fragmented Hope, collage on canvas, 2009 Painting by Alex Nwokolo. Used by permission of the artist.

Contributed By Cozine Welch Jr. Cozine Welch Jr.

Cozine Welch Jr. has been published in the Michigan Quarterly Review, Periphery, and other journals. He is currently co-teaching the Atonement Project at the University of Michigan.

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