Ishaq Mustapha

This is not a poem

How can it be?

How do I write a poem when all I am is a sign language left unread

Constantly judged for being me— a spirit groping for meaning in flesh    mouth pronged open 

I am force-fed with the poison     -NO-     a word that snakes like ivy      hot and slow-creeping within my inside

Growing into an eerie lush of garden where the footpaths of my ears become weary of formal introduction; 

And skip    hands akimbo    to the eagerly anticipated arrival of all my fears

Years and years go tumbling by like a rolling stone

And all I do is judge myself through the eyes of others as though mine were colour blind

Stunned with flashbacks on days where I was told I’d never be good enough    days that morphed into months

Months that shape shifted into years     years that have now made up for the most part of my life in resonating echoes

“I’m good if they say I’m good,” a voice chimes in my head

I try each time to be good enough      but they label me mediocre

Their words     like sharp thorns     pierce my soul

leaving scars that never seem to heal with time or the balm of amnesia 

Last night     tried to continue    but their words      

Which are now shadows of my thoughts     weakens my very core

But today

I take the first step on a journey towards self-acceptance 

Fiery-eyed and full of lead      I am ready to rewrite the story I’ve been told!

Olatubosun Ishaq Mustapha is a 21-year-old poet who finds solace in the realm of words and emotions. I strive to express the intricate contradictions of life through my words. Reach him on IG @tunbossunn. Email: