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Apollo The Child - OG 500 Winner

Photo by James Park

Khaleefa "Apollo The Child" Hamdan, spoken word poet and co-director of Ottawa slam poetry collective, Urban Legends, won the OG 500 Poetry Slam at the 2017 House of PainT to a roaring audience of Ottawans. Hamdan is an active member of the Ottawa cultural scene, co-host of The Home Invasion Show, on CKCU, and a regular contributor to PACE Magazine.

I watch it shake

Curl and take shape

Moving in the way it wants to

In it's own pace

Envious of the way it lives,

You should see the way my mouth gapes

My hair, the mane

Defiant in the way it hangs

I remember my father once asked me

When I would cut it down

This was back in my afro days

Back when I wore my own crown

I've never been one for monarch

Or even world leaders

I've often seen their evil ways

But this crown was mine

This was around the time

When the United States went to war

With Iraq again

Under the guise of weapons of mass destruction


I refused to reduce the size of my hair


I told my pops I would do cut it down when Iraq was truly free


Free from Saddam Hussein

Free from the United States

Free from the hatred my people seemed to have shackled themselves to

A shame

How we try so hard to differentiate

Even though we are one and the same

Sunnis kill shiites

Shiites kill Sunnis

Even though we are one and the same

And what Saddam Hussein did to the Kurds

Can never be forgotten

It can never be forgiven

And so I grow my hair

And I am proud of the way it hangs

Like octopus tentacles

It tangles

Knowing it is stronger together

Like my people should be

I thank the old white ladies for the compliments

I tell them,

“No you may not touch my hair, I am not your dog to be petted. To you it is only hair but to me, it

is my antenna to the Heavens”.

And it curls

And it shakes

And it moves

In the ways my life's avenues do

It is for me, it is not for you

Samson it gives me strength

It reminds me of my heritage

Of desert sands

And palm trees full of dates

And so

I will sow a date tree seed in me

So when I die

And meet the reaper

I will always have my home with me

I want my body's decay

To be able to provide shade

In a place

Where they are so quick to throw it

Rather than break bread

I kneed the dough

Because I need the dough

Working overtime to feed my home

So fuck your hair nets

And minimum wage

I'm trying to keep my family fed

Callused hands to complete the set

In kindergarten they used to mock

My mop and my locks

Like their wasn't beauty

In the wild and unkempt

So for a little while

I lived in self contempt

I thought I was ugly

But now I realize that this wild hair is a gift

Ma ameshud sharee

Akalee whoua whoua

(I will not comb my hair

I will leave it as is)

I'm more proud of it

Now that I grew up

And I let it loose

On every stage

As I produce

Art with these words I say

And I leeeeeaaaaan back

And I oil my curls

And I repeat

Ma ameshud sharee

Akalee whoua whoua

And I repeat

I will not comb my hair

I will leave it as is

And I hope to God that it tangles

Knowing that it is stronger together

Like humanity should be

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