little debbie

she’s experiencing withdrawals…no honey buns within a mile. i thought this was new york? all we’re requesting is courtesy. consideration. what if her sugar was low? this must be some sort of violation. surely she can appeal for something here? we petition for signage on the highways…welcome to west bubba, new york…caution, no honey buns within a mile…in neon lights like the twenty-four-hour bodegas back home. because this is discrimination against the university’s inner-city scholars. i see borders of vanilla icing around our communities. white-lining. jellymandering. sugargation. yum crow. there must be something we can do. can we call the united urban planning association? there are too many grocery stores here. way too many. is there anything we can do? someone call al sharpton. jesse jackson. martin luther king? is this all my fault? i didn’t tell her college would be this hard. she’s soft, delicate, and sweet – my baby is what she eats.


glazed buns in the trunk


self-portrait during a panic attack

everything is blue. mimicking the boy’s face is a mirror covered in shower smoke. and abstractly impressioned over his eyes is a thin film of twinkling little stars.

everything is blue as he stares in wait of the night’s passage. it doesn’t pass and the rising winter daylight fails to permeate the bathroom. the space is dark, but beads of sweat are visible. they swirl around his already wet torso. chocolatey and slippery, his bird chest melts into his tightly tied towel. a subtle left hand sticks to the knot. this keeps the boy raveled. the frame captures him inhaling, his nostrils flaring like wildfire. in this state, he stands – five feet tall, short in his breath, and long in his perception of panic attacks.

everything is blue including a father figure. he is visible beyond the four walls of the deathroom. a black leather briefcase sticks to his left hand. draping his well-insulated torso is a tightly tied necktie – this knot keeps his family together. the back door of the house is opened for flight into the brisk winter workday. everything is blue including the wind squeezing through the cracked storm door. everything is blue. everything except his father’s face. like an evening owl, his shining face swivels, and his bulging eyes break the wall between darkness and dawn.

language arts

before i went to high school, a few of my teachers called me honey bun, but the way they pronounced the compound word never reminded me of the fifty-cent treat we often bought before school – but if that’s not a honey bun, i do not know what is – in hindsight, i seemed to have known the difference between stressed and unstressed syllables before i knew that they were called such; we were usually unstressed syllables before we realized we were always stressed syllables; in language arts class we learned run-on sentences were bad because they do not tell the reader when to stop, but i’m not so convinced anymore because somehow our teachers never learned that the history they taught us directly before language arts class was indeed one very long run-on sentence…i’m a grown man now and a middle-aged coworker greets me; as she says “hey, honey bun,” i instantly melt back into a middle-school unstressed syllable before i could muster one from my lips – i simply smile and hum: mmm…

sugar lies

honey bun, you think

they love you?

Isaac Akanmu is a Nigerian American from Staten Island, NY. His poetry chapbook, not belonging anywhere, is available with Bottlecap Press (2022). Isaac’s poetry also appears in Posit Journal, Olney Magazine, Rejection Letters, and more. He lives in Charlotte, NC. Find Isaac at and on social media (@insteadofisaac).