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Aside: this poem is a stage.

Aside: this poem will pretend there are no audiences.

Aside: this poem will not warn you.

Aside: my younger brother, away from the spotlight, lies
   underneath where the baobab tree sheds its sombre green.

Aside: my father, at the centre of this poem stage, collects my country into
   a bottle of anointing oil.

Aside: my mother is the prayer house.


Dramatic irony: this poem does not know I am writing it.

Dramatic irony: this poem thinks it’ll end happily, lol.

Dramatic irony: my brother does not know he is this stage poem.


Aside: promise me you’ll not tell him.

Aside: our flesh can be wiped clean of bullet stains but not our breaths.

Aside: ever since then, I question every scar.

Aside: how did you get this arm, complete to the elbow, was it scraped off by a bomb or by your


Response: the bomb and my country are one and the same.


Aside: i heard a crater was dug in your body by a bullet, have you truly healed?


Response: healing is a myth. the collagen does nothing but
closes the wound’s mouth—silencing its voice.


Climax: the bullet has left its home.

Climax: the owner of the home forgot to lock the door.

Climax: the home has gun gone mad

Climax: the bullet, hungry, is headed into the streets.


Suspense: the bullet is indecisive: whether to feed or not to.

Suspense: the day is night & mother arrows God's ears with a prayer carrying my
     brother's scent.

Suspense: god is indecisive: whether to be a wolf or to be a shepherd.


Anticlimax: in one part of a dream, my brother returns home alive.

Anticlimax: in another part of the dream, my brother is the gladioli growing in our backyard.


Flashback: before my brother died, I showed him a poem i had newly written. He Asked: is life
     a play to you … If not, then why do your poems have characters?


Aside: this poem has characters.

Aside: this poem is time travelling.


Denouement: it is 2046, this poem has been cleaned of all bloodstains. gravity can no longer
hold our dead in their graves or their ghosts in our bones. they float in the air like
alien ships, like doves spurting from exhaust pipes. we breathe them into our
my brother is running through my lungs. i can taste the violence of his death. my
boy of twelve comes back from school with a metaphor in his hands
shapeshifting into a history textbook. he points to the page with the date:
October 20, 2020. i say to him, i remember it like it was yesterday. history is only a
memory that has grown
older. he leans into my arm, tears pushing out of his eyes
like wild parsnip, like Bullets perforating the night. i exhale. my breath gathers
the hairs on his skin. is that my uncle? is that my uncle? he asks.

Michael Imossan is a Nigerian writer. His chapbook FOR THE LOVE OF COUNTRY AND MEMORY was awarded a chapbook prize by Nigerian News Direct’s poetry column.
Current Issue
18 Sep 2023

Ama’s arm rested protectively around the girl’s shoulder as the giant bird glided above, its head angling right to left. Violet-black wings soared across a cloudless sky, blocking the sun’s midday rays and swathing sections of the village in deep shadow. Given its size, this argentavis was one of her first, but too far above for her to differentiate by name. Even across the distance, Ama could feel its heartbeat synced to hers, their lives intertwined until death.
She is leaving the world that is pink with desire, on her gray cardboard rocket ship.
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