By Javoun Baker


“Kid at the beach” © T. Ron Scott (https://www.flickr.com/photos/sigma316/6706156839/)

I didn’t grow up without a father,
My father grew up without me.

Youngest of three kids raised in the projects,
Around 6 gangs who wanted power and deep pockets.

I was abandoned.

My legacy?

Another hopeless black man,
imprisoned to this town house I’d call a sanctuary,
Mom hustling 3 jobs finding ways to take care of me,
“I cooked food for the week, go to bed by 9, finish your homework and turn off the TV”
I obeyed.

But see,

My father only came for 5 birthdays, 4 graduations, out of 3 kids.
1 wasn’t his,
Ain’t give a damn about what she did.

My brother?
Honor roll student,
High scholar,
He was more a father than my own father,
Taught me all the ropes,
Gave me inspiration even dreams and hopes,

My sister?
Another mother,
Who’s nature is to smother,
That was stressful enough, I didn’t want another.

Here’s the wound that didn’t heal with that knife you carved in it.

You fucking abandoned me,
I was left hopeless to go learn how to be a man for both you and me,
I never had the luxury of having my dad teach me ball,
A father showing up to my games to pick me up when i fall,
Not even a “You tried! Great job son.”

Absolutely nothing.
At all.

I was embarrassed to go to teacher conferences because I didn’t want the teacher to ask where my father was,
I didn’t even want the word parents to be uttered by anyone around me, because of how ashamed I was.

You did the most selfish thing anyone can do

You didn’t bother to water the seed you brought upon this earth

You made my mom work 10 times harder because of your lack of self worth.

You moved to New York in hope of a better life with more pay, a bigger house, and more wives.

That backfired, and my mom still nurtured you.
All the times I needed to be nurtured,
I was neglected by both her and
I was the rusty trophy passed down from generations that got shelved behind all the other notable achievements.
I found myself in lawless pathways full of
echos and broken mirrors,
with only the ability to feel the crippled staircases,
barbed wire,
surrounding every step i place my foot delicately on

I had no guide, I had no eyes.

Staring outside into a world full of chaos, my only canvas was the storefront full of gang graffiti next to broken fences and police cars

“Black kid drawing on clear plastic, Los Angeles 1986” © Gilbert Mercier (https://www.flickr.com/photos/gilbert_mercier/21876678942/)

A boy can dream.

I longed for days i would wake up and see you at the door apologizing for leaving me in a scorching fire of fear
I was sensitive to everything around me because of you,
I got made fun of for crying when a kid hit me because of you,
I wanted to take my own life at the age of 11 in hopes of a newer life because of you.

A rose from concrete.

It was February,
I had to leave school to fly to New York to go visit you in the ICU.
My mom bawling her eyes out shoving clothes in her suitcase.
I can’t help but cry when the strongest person in your life can’t even fathom what’s happening.
At 3 AM in the middle of New York
I saw you on that bed,
I wish I could’ve told you how much I hated you then, for putting me through torture you did but I wanted you to feel it.
A blackout as the doctors called it.
Internal bleeding with intense damage to the skull.
It’s quite amazing I remember those exact words and felt absolutely nothing but disgust when seeing you helpless on that stiff bed.
It was my sisters birthday too, what an amazing present to wake up too.
You’re always trying to find an excuse.

I didn’t realize it then, but I would never get to talk to you ever again.
You stayed in that coma for 4 months straight,
it almost felt like you were avoiding me,
You did a damn good job too.
4 months in a slumber you would never wake from.

The rebellious era.

I started selling weed dad,
I wanted to make money but most importantly to show you I was more of a man than you,
I don’t even come home anymore dad,
I learned that same thing from you,
I started kicking it with the kids from
the block mom warned me about,
The ones who would tell me if you say a word, i’ll cut your tongue out,
I almost lost my life that year too dad,
Someone tried to kill me
but we handled that in silence,
I can’t say a word about the violence.

Out of mind.

Who knew a quarter ounce of weed would have me end up in an alternative school, a step away from jail.
Expelled for trying to rebel, and make money for myself just to flaunt in the clothes I couldn’t afford.

“Street deals.” © Neil Moralee (https://www.flickr.com/photos/neilmoralee/45065521665/)

I was forgotten all over again.
Exiled by my own family, my friends.
I had nobody, and the only people who understood were the people at that school.

A school of “nobodies” who knew nothing but mayhem and trouble.
A bunch of forgotten students who’s only hope was being dead or in prison.

But would you believe me
if I said I felt like I was at home?
I had no one to impress, I had no one to look forward to after a day of school, I became my own joy.

I hate to play the blame game but i’m blaming this on you,
sure I committed the actions, but you told me to.
You gave me every answer I needed for the questions that remained unknown.
I followed your advice with precision and strife.
Sell to the customers by day, re up by night.
That way your hands stay clean and your money is out of sight.
I had it all figured out, no new friends, no
loose ends.


Javoun Baker is a writer and actor from Waukegan, Illinois. Brought up and raised in a place of grief, struggle, and violence. As a first-generation Jamaican and the youngest of three kids, work ethic was the most important thing to Javoun Baker in regard to being successful. Pursuing acting at a young age until finally receiving his first debut on Chicago PD, his second semester of senior year in Waukegan High School in 2016. In Javoun’s poetry, you will find that many of his pieces are topics people are afraid to admit or express, but always itching to talk about. A dying love to capture photos in his life from his experiences and use writing as a way for readers to visualize it. For every poem there is a story, and every story is true.

Subscribe / Share

One Comments Post a Comment
  1. Thank you for using one of my photographs (number two) to illustrate your very touching and lyrical poem!

Leave a Reply

What Is YARN?

It's a brilliant thing to have a place where you can read fresh original short stories by both seasoned YA authors and aspiring teens. YARN is a great tool box for growing up writing. - Cecil Castellucci

Imagine. Envision. Write. Revise. Submit. Read.

YARN is an award-winning literary journal that publishes outstanding original short fiction, poetry, and essays for Young Adult readers, written by the writers you know and love, as well as fresh new voices...including teens.

We also believe in feedback, which is why we encourage readers to post comments on pieces that inspire thought, emotion, laughter...or whatever.

So. What's your YARN?

Publication Archive