My niece asks a barrage of questions
as I teach her how to play

battleship. With each missed
shot she takes the seven seas around me

ripple unsettled, rocking
me from sight to side, tidal waves. C4.

How come you don’t have
any children? Miss. A1.

When are you going
to get married? Miss. I8.

I heard you say your doctor said you’re losing
weight. Why don’t you eat like you used to? Miss. H8

If you want to move out
why haven’t you yet? Miss. D5.

Why do I hear the other adults in the family
asking you to take medicine? Hit. D6. Is there something

wrong with you? Are you sick? Are you going
to be alright? Hit. D7. When we have dinner

why do you stay in your room
to yourself? Hit. D8. Every time one of my mother’s friends

has a new baby you want to hold them. Do you want
to have one one day? Hit. D9. My daddy said

men aren’t supposed to cry. My daddy isn’t around
much but you are. I’ve never seen my daddy cry but I’ve seen

you do it when you laugh. Are there other times when it’s alright
to cry? Hit. D10. Why did you stop going out with your friends? Why

have you stopped doing anything that isn’t staying
at grandma’s house? Why do you get upset

when I ask so many questions? Hit.
You sank my battleship?

Deonte Osayande is a writer from Detroit, MI. His poems and essays have been published in many publications including Word Riot, The Missing Slate, and New Poetry from the Midwest. He has been a member of the Detroit Poetry Slam Team multiple times which he now manages. He’s currently teaching English at Wayne County Community College, and through the Inside Out Detroit Literary Arts Program.

See more of his work in 3.4 here.
And in 3.1 here and here.