I love my father for tellin’ me to take off the gloves

’cause everything he didn’t want was everything I was

                        – Kendrick Lamar


The first day I drew a sketch of my life, my father

said the portrait was just too colourful;

men ought to love in secret variables

so we can find our exes (x’s) in the whys (Ys) that shed

happiness from our lips. What else is bitterness

if not an adult squeezing an orange fruit 

clean of its juice while a child eats the pulp.

Watching toy stories was the closest I ever came

to masculinity as a kid. I have lost all the childhood joys now.

The voices are there too, not of angels singing a man up

but of complaints & knives & terrors.

Father tells me things weren’t this hard when men were

water-filled balloons waiting to be punctured.

Beneath the udara tree, a boy milks sadness

like the pulp of a sour fruit wringing the tongue,

his eyes are red again from late-night marijuana,

legs numbed by the weight of masculinity.

He sings and the morning takes his breath away,

swallows his voice in a ream of echoes.

He holds up his palms to the sky saying:

I come into your hands today, do not betray me.

Ozota Gerald Obinna writes from a Neuropsychiatric Hospital in Lagos, Nigeria, he loves listening to cricket and birds, he writes about losses and grief.