Shared Struggles

My wife isn’t plotting her grave,
endless fatigue, body betraying,

us both. Our villains aren’t outside
these vessels that our lives cling to.
Invisible illnesses are our doppelgangers.

Lupus drains her body of brightness
but I still bring illumination to her face.
Narcolepsy drags me into the void
without a dream or nightmare to lull me.

Nobody else can know how we bond
over shared struggle. Swimming in seas
of black anxiety, can’t know doubt

as intimately as us, we drown in it.
Until we found each other, and I’m sure

there is someone here who wants to help,
but we have accepted that you can’t when
there is no cure. I’ve managed thirty years

on my own, sure someone without a med degree
can help with suggestions I haven’t already heard.
On how we should live our lives. It doesn’t matter
to them, they are just, they are always just, trying.

Invisible illnesses don't exist to them. My
black comes first, my black, always topical,
never my disability, I am black and disabled.

They just keep conversation and we should be
so lucky to even have them talk to us. We live.

We’re not dumb. They think sick, they don’t think,
us. Living despite, we’re out of the test tubes,
living our best lives, why won’t they let us just be.

Deonte Osayande is a writer from Detroit, MI. He has represented Detroit at four National Poetry Slam competitions. He’s currently a professor of English at Wayne County Community College. His books include Class (Urban Farmhouse Press, 2017), Circus (Brick Mantle Books, 2018) and Civilian (Urban Farmhouse Press, 2019). He also managed the Rustbelt Midwest Regional Poetry Slam and Festival for 2014 and 2018.

You can see more of his work in 3.1 and 3.1 and 3.4 and 3.4 and 4.4 and 6.1 and the 2019 Pocket Poems Anthology