[i] The gum popping hairdresser would braid my hair so tight
my edges looked like a bribe hiding from the public.
She always reminded me she gave me a discount
in this tough economic climate for being the daughter,
of the Aunty, of the uncle, of the mother.
[ii] My mother and I would spend weekends at the market,
negotiating the prices of food before buying them.
I used my skills to negotiate the cost of digesting
my father’s mistakes into my body.
His mistakes drag like Ogbono soup,
accompanies new trauma to make a tasty meal.
[iii] When home smiles at me I see the gap tooth
between the rich and the poor,
politicians swallowed the money meant for braces,
their stomachs look like swollen gums.
[iv] My grandfather was a simple man,
the flashiest thing he flaunted were his teeth.
We tucked away his belongings
when the chewing sticks he used to brush his teeth
reminded us of what dementia did to his brain.
[v] The devil is a business man
it’s no surprise a false preacher once charged
the pepper seller down my street her life savings
in exchange for a mansion in heaven. The preacher
warned me I was behind on my payments to heaven,
I told him I need God to extend my overdraft first.
[vi] Fela Kuti’s mother was thrown off a balcony
by soldiers angered by her sons activism.
Fela’s mother’s spine was a flagpole broken into half,
leaving my country’s flag to drape on the floor
trying to clean the blood stains
of those who died by the hands of the country.