Abayomi Animashaun

The Person You Once Were

Taking down this picture
Of the person you once were

And smashing it against the wall
Of your blue and brown house

Won’t change opinions of you
Held by those you’ve wronged

Who still call you a sloth
And a shameless drunk.

This was twenty years ago, when
The person you once were

Never showed up to work
Gambled wages held in his trust

Drank through the night
And wrote others off.

Smashing this picture
Against the wall

Won’t signal to those you’ve wronged
The bitter work you’ve done –

The nights alone shaking
From cold sweat.

Days before therapists
When you broke down and wept.

Let this picture be a reminder
Of the years you’ve spent
Moving the dial

Toward the person you now are
Able to lie through the night
With its blue and white song

Able to rise before dawn
Pick up the hoe and cutlass
And go in search of work.

Abayomi Animashaun is an immigrant from Nigeria. He holds an MFA from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a PhD from the University of Kansas. His poems have appeared in several print and online journals, including Diode, TriQuarterly, The Cortland ReviewAfrican American Review, Southern Indiana Review, The Adirondack ReviewPassages North, and Versedaily. A recipient of the Hudson Prize and a grant from the International Center for Writing and Translation, Abayo is the author of two poetry collections,  Sailing for Ithaca, and The Giving of Pears, and the editor of three anthologies, Far Villages: Welcome Essays for New & Beginner PoetsOthers Will Enter the Gates: Immigrant Poets on PoetryInfluences, and Writing in America, and Walking the Tightrope: Poetry and Prose by LGBTQ Writers from Africa (with Spectra, Tatenda Muranda, Irwin Iradunkunda, and Timothy Kimutai).