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what will you sing if hunger abides in your blood? there is a name for the animal grief makes of us—a body falls to the earth like hammered nails & all that remains is a dirt mound melting in the rain. for days now, i stand in Rann—a small town painted with blood & constant fear. there is enough fractured in this land without pretending that home is an open prison. no words can beauty this: i mean to say there are words you write when you score a name with a blade. eulogy of a body in prayer: what god turns his cheeks to see his sweetest lambs slaughtered before they can grow up into sheep? a boy is dying. a girl is dying. a hundred students & a hundred healthcare workers are dying. what can i give to be that season, that sacred space contained in every child’s voice asking where then is safe? O Borno, what century fell at your door? i took to my hands & knees when you climbed out from a garlic clove & kissed the moon on its cheek. it was only months when it felt like i had been grieving your abduction forever. i keep meaning to stop. to wait for you, night after night as my little sister does when i’m gone—i mean to say i make a list of things i know you’ll come back for. i will say come back, come back for the children you left & the dog. come back, i will say to rock the newborn babies to sleep & console their depressed teenage mothers. come back for your brother & the nights full of cold bowls of oat brewed with cardamom & cloves.



last night i had a dream where i was planted at the rupture of a root where the land became your wilting petals. shouldn't we mourn for Hauwa Liman? i speak of a certain rooftop not far from collapse. i mark in charcoals & sense the new branches of a cypress within me waiting to tear the gauze. i look into them & see a stigma of stars falling across dark fields. there is a raven at the door: each new day i show my garnet arms & our hurts become full-blown.

¹ I read what happened to Hauwa Liman in the news.

Ojo Taiye is a young Nigerian who uses poetry as a tool to hide his frustration with the society. Apart from writing, he loves drinking coffee a lot. His poems and works have appeared in journals like Rattle, Frontier Poetry, Palette Poetry, The Stinging Fly, Notre Dame Review, Vallum, Crannog, Argot, Brittle Paper, Glass Journal, Elsewhere, Eunoia Review, Lit Mag, Juke, Praxis Magazine, and elsewhere. You can find him on Twitter @ojo_poems.
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