poetry column




with a line from Gbenga Adesina

By Taofeek “Aswagaawy” Ayeyemi

Memory is the darkness
in which we find our gone souls;

history and heritage reminisced
as culture, as headstones to crush our flowers.

Father was a griot
and death filled the missing gaps in his stories.

Once I was massaging my limbs,
and pitied I was pressing his shoulders too hard;

It is that my hands
are also my father’s hands,

open and always so; a sloppy hallway
slipping gifts into the street.

Of everything I refused to inherit,
his visage– where a river of mercy flows, wasn’t among.

Every time my friends talked about me in my absence,
I always appear: & they’d tick the box of my legitimacy.

Once, a strange woman saw me
and called my father’s middle name;

she didn’t mean to call him,
she meant to strike her guess that I’m my father’s son.



Taofeek “Aswagaawy” Ayeyemi is a Nigerian lawyer, writer and author of the chapbook Tongueless Secrets (Ethel Press, 2021) and a collection “aubade at night or serenade in the morning” (Flowersong Press, 2021). A BotN and Pushcart Prize Nominee, his works have appeared in CV 2, Lucent Dreaming, Up-the-Staircase Quarterly, FERAL, ARTmosterrific, Banyan Review, Conscio, Porter House Review, the QuillS and elsewhere. He won the 2021 Loft Books Flash Fiction Competition, 2nd Place in 2021 Porter House Review Poetry Contest, and Honorable Mention in 2021 Oku-no-hosomichi Soka Matsubara Haiku Contest and 2020 Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Prize among others. He is @Aswagaawy on Twitter.

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