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everyone knows what happened

By Candice Iloh

the parents got a phone call from the school
the school told the parents the behavior was

inappropriate               something that won’t be tolerated                  unacceptable

the school suggested three weeks of suspension
& closed campus lunches when the child returns

these parents asked what will happen to the teacher
for talking to their child like that          for treating their child like that

for escalating things

the school defended the teacher’s responsibility
to hold the child accountable to the standards

the school defended the teacher’s right
to give consequences where they are due

out of control               trouble with authority               disrespectful

are the words the school used when describing
the child & why this has happened

Baba tells me all this cause he wants me to know
Baba tells me this cause in this house there are

no secrets & we are on the same side




Listen as Candice Iloh readseveryone knows what happened.”

Added: Friday, April 21, 2023  /  Used with permission.
Candice Iloh
Photo by Justin Lamar Carter.

Candice Iloh is a first-generation Nigerian American writer from the Midwest by way of Washington, D.C. and Brooklyn, New York whose books center home, self-awareness, and Black sustainability. They are a proud alumna of the Rhode Island Writers Colony and their work has earned fellowships from Lambda Literary, VONA, Kimbilio Fiction and a residency with Hi-ARTS, where they debuted their first one-person show in 2018. Candice became a 2020 National Book Award Finalist, and in 2021, a Printz Award Honoree for their debut novel, Every Body Looking. Break This House is their second novel. This is an excerpt of their third novel, Salt the Water, forthcoming October 2023.

Image Description: Candice Iloh appears in black and white and faces slightly to the left with one hand cupped under their chin. They wear a silver ring, a tall cap with a fade haircut, and a leather jacket. Their skin and clothing are different shades of black.

Other poems by this author