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poetry column

Thirsty Boy

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By Abdulbasit Oluwanishola

You don’t have to reach the pharynx of the river before
you stumble on your people—on their carcasses.
water is careless. it even stomachs dirt. it shakes hand to the filthy
proposal of men. and don’t ask about your mother,
it is evanescent. it is the autopsy of your people.
you’re not the sieve—the body that cannot retain light.
it only takes a minute before one could see the sun
rays through your face. shadows just like traipsing over a light.
tomorrow, outpour tears for your people—
your mother. your father. your two sisters. the man who
turned your palm to the space he squeezes his tokens into—
don’t pin them—they’re your antibody
through this storm. through this drought.
see boy, i know of thirst better than any desert.
i take breezes swinging around as my mother’s embrace.
i disallow whispering into my ears. my father’s voice
is tuning somewhere there. many times,
i split like clouds bereft of water—
dehydration. hypocalcemia. come boy, let’s sit here,
at the end of this poem. i, too, belong to its opening.
let’s make a votive: today, tomorrow and the days after,
we are not what a river would forget it swallowed.

BIO:
Abdulbasit Oluwanishola, SWAN V, is a young Nigerian poet and essayist who writes from Ilorin, Kwara State. He’s studying Agriculture in Usmanu Dafodiyo University Sokoto. He is the winner of the PCU Eid Celebration on-the-spot poetry contest 2023. He is shortlisted in the Dawn Project Writing Contest 2023. His works are up/forthcoming on A Long House, Kalahari Review, Visual verse, Ninshãr Arts, World Voices Magazine, Full House Literary, Invisible City, and elsewhere. He tweets @OO1810107.

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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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