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

    I Did Not Leave

    Cozine Welch Jr.

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    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.

     

    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.

    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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