Abayomi Animashaun

West of Neverland

After years of working
West of Neverland

In the most unsanitary
Meat packing company

And living in a tenement
Overrun by mice

Hook took by foot
The same route

Peter, Wendy, John
And Michael flew

When they soared
Straight on till morning

After passing the second star
On the right.

He returned home
To Neverland

With gray beard
And rusting hook

Gaunt, bald

With worms, lice
And a distant look.

He returned
To find Smee gone.

His pirates
The lost boys

And the ticking clock.

Looking across
Marooner’s Rock

He sighs
From remorse

For what started as a game
And how it went all wrong.

How he agreed

(Now removing his shoes
And stilts)

To play the grown up

(His coat, beard
And wooden teeth)

Who held children prisoners
After chasing them
Like dogs.

How he bludgeoned Wendy
And broke her arms

Tied John and Michael
For days

Till they begged
To eat rats.

And Tiger Lilly
Tiger Lilly…

It was a part
He played too well

One he’s now
Resigned to

As he slowly adjusts
And reties the stilts

Slips on the coat
And pushes down
His wooden teeth

Again becoming
The aged man

From the meat packing

The one diseased
With worms and lice

Who must return to work
After day break

Before the ticking clock
Strikes nine.

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).