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Cloaking by Deonte Osayande | Word Riot
Poetry

August 22, 2016      

Cloaking by Deonte Osayande

A former professional fighter is shown on the news
dressing like a superhero without superpowers
helping people on the street. My nephew

becomes the kid within the comic book
looking up to this crime fighter. He asks me

what superpowers I would choose
if given the chance. He assumes
everyone would be able to
control their otherworldly abilities
let alone learn how to love those

parts of themselves which don’t always
make life easier. He says he would pick

invisibility as sleep peels me away
from this day to day conversation, an instant
interruption of slumber like the others often
orbiting outside the grasp of my control. My naps

span anywhere from seconds until hours
and ten minutes later I wake up to find him
worried he bored me to sleep. How he forgets

about my powers isn’t his fault. I’m my own hero
and nemesis, hidden in plain sight. A ghost

among ghosts, walking cemetery
unseen among the unseen, black

and disabled, narcolepsy does more than force sleep
on me, it gifts me with dual invisibility and curses me
with haunting dreams of death. My ex-lover didn’t know

how to handle these episodes, leaving me to figure out
the way to conceal my powers on my own. I tried to

but she didn’t know that with every trip she asked me to take,
every far off drive could be my last, just one sleep episode
away from disaster. I wake up, tell my nephew I wouldn’t choose

any power outside of the ones I already have. He asks me
which ones is that, and I tell him the power to dream
of a better tomorrow. To know what it’s like to feel this
double cloaking, this invisibility. To know what it is
to be hated for your skin, and your powers you can’t control.

Performance PicAbout the author:

Deonte Osayande is a former track and field sprinter turned writer from Detroit, Mi. He writes nonfiction essays and his poems have been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology, a Pushcart Prize and published in numerous publications. He has represented Detroit at multiple National Poetry Slam competitions. He’s currently a professor of English at Wayne County Community College, and teaching youth through the Inside Out Detroit Literary Arts Program. His first full collection of poems entitled Class, is going to be out with Urban Farmhouse Press in 2017.

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