Joann Quinones

Ere Ibeji


i am John the Baptist proclaiming the good news that did not come at all the tomb is empty. i am the first born doing my older brother’s bidding. i tasted life came too early breathed in the air saw her fifteen year old thin body laughed and told you Kehinde wait wait wait how would i know it would be 1979 then no second opinions and doctors had no patience for teen mothers brown skin a pain in the side they took it all out womb tubes ovaries “she should be grateful she at least had one” but i was not the one that should have been born.


i grew up in the wilderness of subways and fed on regret and honey. At five all i could surmise was she could not have any sons for my father and so i told my teacher my brother died yes i am Taiyewo with the sixth finger burnt from my hand i have ended up with two heads one throat and our hearts beating, beating how do you live as a mistake as small as possible half souled as inconspicuous as the third rail.


i am grateful i am so grateful i am so thankful i hide in my shadow and carry my parents’ bitterness around my neck i am so grateful every breath is a borrowed one father’s pride a mother’s love is an ocean i floated on fettered drinking it in a thimble full at a time i will be the good child the perfect child the silent child ere ibeji feeding my imagined brother washing his wooden feet.



Cancer Poem #2 

It was when my mother made me breakfast
counted out the almonds
            and laid one portion
                        out next to the Zofran

that I knew, 


in my thoughtless rage I told her
I can feel my insides dying
Everything that made me a woman is gone
  She looked at me and said, 

            “Your eggs are dying and they threw mine away.”

It is not the burden of women to live with imagined, unborn legacies)

I am her daughter

And then I knew

my mother

did not want me to die.

Joann Quinones

Joann Quiñones
is originally from Brooklyn, NY but has lived in the Midwest for close to 20 years. Currently residing in Richmond, IN, she is an Associate Professor of English at Earlham College where she teaches American, African American and Caribbean Literature. She is currently working on a collection of poetry and a novel based on the lives of sugar cane workers in 1930s Yabucoa, Puerto Rico.  

© The Acentos Review 2013