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poetry column

Prayer basket

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By Kayode Ayobami

say each line two times; one with your right ventricle and the other with the apex of your tongue.

Give me the audacity to be beautiful in
The face of chaos. Let my breath outpace
The speed of flood. To have the ability to
drown my worries in the gurgle of laughter.
I’ll make a windmill in the face of the drought
that reddens my father’s eyes. I promise to
never curse the day my anxiety confines me
To the four walls of my room. To raise my
Shoulders to the loads that lower my mum’s
Shoulders. To reduce, into dust, the mountains
that refuse the landing of the rainbow. To become
A bee and sting my depression to death. To clap
When others pop the bottle of joy, for I know
That the courier that handles my parcel stops
For a blind man to cross to the other side of
The road. I don’t really like beverages, but ginger
Should remember that a Yorùbá man seeks
Longlife through something spicy. Who says
A kúùfíń should die without leaving the traces
Of its flame? Let me not die like a rat caught
In-between a farmtrap. Let me not die like a
Vagabond. I do not want a love Rudy has for
The sandcastles. If there’s no one to love me
Back, then let me love myself to the moon and
Back. To the heavens and earth. A love that
Swallows the galaxy of stars. I hope these
Duas have the wings to fly without hitting
Their heads on a cursed tree with unfortunate
Branches. I hope these prayers see through
The fog, body the storm, strike the thunder
& overpower the rain. I hope they do not
Fall back on my tongue and ventricle like a
Crashed bird in the face of a mirror.

BIO:
Káyọ̀dé is a Nigerian and an African literature enthusiast, interested in Academics and Yorùbá translation. His works have been published or forthcoming in Icefloepress, Olongo, Àtẹ́lẹwọ́, PoetrySangoỌta, Isele, Ake review, South Florida, and elsewhere. He was shortlisted for the Ake Climate Change Poetry Prize (2022). He tweets @kayodeAyobamii

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poetry column

Lances at the hedges of light

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By Samuel A. Betiku

With Nigeria’s economy and poverty levels worsening, abductions have become an almost daily occurrence in recent years — Reuters

Until now, you savoured the world in packets of myth, moon-
lit frolic and a cot where the soft ripple of praise succeeds the rooster’s
call and the amber flush of afterglow. What did you know of a country
flailing outside the stained glasses of your eyes, eyes your mother looked into
to relearn the curves of a hymn: what did you know of being a prey
or of a complicit knot of trees and underbrush lining a dire trail,
blanketing the gleam of tomorrow. You watch your friends trudge on,
each laboured step a prayer no one dares to say out loud. When you open
your mouths, it is to let out a wisp of stifled cry, to risk the gruff nudge
of a gun. At the end of the road, your plundered selves waiting, inescapable.
What can you give to stay a haloed house? You look down at your feet
crusted with crimson and grit and imagine your mother sitting outside
the shed, the quiet sob of petition, the drooped heft of her brow, barely able
to stare at a sky spangled with lights closer to home than her daughter.

BIO:
Samuel A. Betiku is a Nigerian writer from the city of Ondo, South West Nigeria. His works have appeared in journals and anthologies, including Rattle, The Offing, Frontier poetry, The Temz Review, Trampset, The Christian Century, Strange Horizons, Agbowó, The Deadlands, and elsewhere.

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poetry column

The Knowledge

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By Kei Vough Korede

In a dream, two bars of soap
Were handed to me—
One containing melancholy.
The other, mirth.
A voice instructed me to give
The former to my father and keep
The latter for myself.
I broke each bar into half
And handed a half of each soap to my father:
His pain is my pain. My joy is his joy.

BIO:
Kei Vough Korede, he/they, poet, fashion and mustache enthusiast. He works on his manuscript Oral History. Flirt with him on Twitter @theDilatedSoul

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poetry column

I die like waves

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By Daniel Orisaeke

On the shoreline, I watch
the sun—a halved-cut lemon
dip into the sea,
language written
in the dance of waves
there is a pull and I succumb.
The man beside me murmurs a few words
about dying.
Iniquities,
like beads, jut out from my pores
before hands
drown me into a sea of lemonade.
I die like the waves.
A bitter-sweet enveloping—opaque & quiet
there is a pain before I see black.
I wonder if my tears segregate,
seeking absolution.
I resurrect a new creature—made whole
but the sourness lingers.

BIO:
Daniel Orisaeke (he/him) is a poet and a dental student in the University of Nigeria, Enugu. Twitter handle: @dannie_bry

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