Emmanuel Oppong

Emmanuel Oppong-Yeboah is a Ghanaian American poet, editor, and educator living out the diaspora in Boston, Massachusetts. He is both Black & alive. Born in 1993, Emmanuel currently teaches 11th grade English at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, and in the past has served as a teaching artist at organizations such as the Massachusetts Literary Education and Performance Collective, the Cambridge Arts Council, Northeastern University, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. When not kicking it with juniors, Emmanuel works as an instructor at the Boston-based nonprofit Grubstreet, and as an associate editor for Pizza Pi Press. Emmanuel’s poem, “kra-din” (Kweli Journal), is a recent recipient of the Pushcart Prize (XLIII). In his free time, he enjoys hot carbs, brightly colored chapbooks, and the long sigh at the end of a good book.


I am a child of the 90s/ and of immigrants/
all my dreams are weighed in sand/ nothing is as it was/
or as I remember/ details are traded amongst hands/
the worth of a memory/ is whatever you would now give/
to have it purged from your body/ a muscle
strained until movement itself becomes sacrosanct to you/
we learn pain as reflex/ numbness/
a gift/ to those undone by the labor of their own hands/
when the body becomes a weapon/ what dark hovel
do you crawl into/ I prayed myself
an exit wound/ I functioned
a fire escape/ before all that is in me
is turned/ to ash
I/ will kick
the rescue hatch/ open


(after Morgan Parker)

I wish there were words

wherever I find emptiness
is there a cure for that? maybe,
if we hibernated like bears
we’d see it for what it is. lately,
I just want enough money
to drown in. no cure for winter
but where you’re fathered from
there are no words for snow
only the rain, and the dry season
and whichever side of the harmattan
you happen to blow in.


(after Akosua Adoma Owusu)

I go back home and home is no longer a place I run back to but where I belong. where I belong is where I was born and all my ancestors bristle beneath the ground. I come back dressed in calico. my hair is worn in knots. what I carry is what I need. white is the color of the tro tro and not a system of meanings. the white tro tro carries me home. outside there is the brown ground and everything we’ve built on it. brown is the color of the ground and not another name I’ve learned to go by. the tro tro leaves me by the wayside. my legs know enough to carry me home. my brother greets me at the road. he calls to my mother and my mother welcomes me. I stand outside and consider the opening.