Cold Turkey

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Photo by Laura BaileyBrandon taken on the North Country Trail in Wilderness State Park (Carp Lake MI)

A retrospective of the author’s last six years, retiring from community activism in Detroit and beyond

1. Remembering stomping feet on stages moved the world

Overturned tables, ours 

Rhymed with power

I miss those rhythms and how we spit.

Withdrawal from activist lines, 

Community cold turkey

My soul’s journey towards individual radiance

Awakening from divorce, a shard alone in scattered world

The weight of everything unsaid

Bright moments that radiate


Throughout the unknown cosmos

Being claimed by celestial lineage

So much beauty, did i share

You were not there for me

You could not be

Did i explain my self

To you, or leave a


Among you, or did i share silence

And leave

Was i people

Pleasing that entire time

Or putting in that work?

The community stopped being

Beloved when i didn’t feel the love

The community never stopped being

It chugged along its rusty, trusted rails

Without me

2. When i was twelve, my kidneys,

Held too much pain and retired

From filtering waste

Held too many silent tears and

Started a work stoppage, wildcat strike,

My first Detroit Black


When i was twelve, my kidneys,

Holding it all and me vomiting 

My special sauce

Putting in that work

In the classroom

At Cedar Point

Them 4.0 report cards

While holding

Younger siblings

All the way

To the emergencies

That room at Children’s Hospital

What i’m saying is

The community never stopped

I learned

It lurched along on rusty, trusted rails

Without me

With me

Putting in that work,

My spirit shaking

Aches for a place

Where i am held


Even if it’s in just

A busy corner of this shattered house

Hello kidneys,

A fleeting moment with my son,

My kidneys,

A shivering sliver of your heart.

Owólabi Aboyade is a New Afrikan citizen, cultural organizer and multidimensional Detroiter. He is a divorced father and an Orisha priest with a passion for bringing the liberation lessons of Detroit to global audiences. He served as coordinator of the Community Care Circles program for Detroit Disability Power. He is a co-creator of Bullet*Train, a digital zine chronicling Detroit’s revolutionary cultures in 2020 and is a co-founder of Relentless Bodies, a Detroit-based creative disability and healing justice collective.