b/n borders

to those who freeze up

when faced with 

a loaded question:

“where are you from?”


            growing up between borders can be burdensome


in the morning, your alarm default is: DIALOGUE, loud

first words allowed are greetings in native tongue

breakfast is intercontinental as you contemplate

going through customs deciding what to claim and abandon 


you grab your metal passport and ensure it’s correct 

by looking at the head and the teeth that project


the afternoon is spent exploring boundaries: both neighbor & self


at night, you return to your embassy

to rest from the day in another territory.


            growing up between borders can be beautiful


to those who disarm

by answering with 

a question:

“what do you mean?”

Born in Nigeria and raised in America, Ikem “Na-Chi” Ukeka is a Physical Therapy doctoral candidate at Midwestern University. He dabbles in different forms of poetry, from hip-hop to spoken word. His poem “when pillows talk” was recently published in Fathom. Ikem has forthcoming poems appearing in Barren’s first online issue. He is the author of the chapbook, y. Solo (LuLu Press, 2017), which is available in hardcopy and digitally via major e-book distributors. You can follow him on Twitter @Ikem_NaChi.