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It begins this way: your breath
    -less heave into cluttered room & booze-braided air

after another night in a world rippled
    by the years we’ve left behind. & I say, cleave to me

as you would to everything you lost to love
    for a country we once called home. Hold me & be

still, beloved. The ghosts you hear across
    the blackened fields are only smothered stars

casting their phantom reflections. & there
    are no ravens here picking clean any bullet

-blotted bone. There is only us
    & this single sliver of history turning

weightless as a dandelion clock
    in the chorus of the wind. & beyond this room

is true music, just a threshold away.
    The sound of the world shuffling incomplete without

you, as if to tell you you are a god
    -gracious detail in the cosmic picture of survival.

Listen, the silence calling forth from the gut
    of the earth is a mere distraction from the sun’s leap:

a way of shoring up the walls till the body
    rusts away from the light. Are you listening?—

you have to. You are the healing
    that must come through it all. A petaled song

sprouting on acres of aching centuries. A bird
    -lit morning bubbling into someone else’s twilight,

lustrous as this one light
    -ly rapping, even now, at every shut door

in the stirring city.

Editors: Poetry Department
Copy Editors: Copy Editing Department
Accessibility: Accessibility Editors

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, The Temz Review, Trampset, The Christian Century, Rough Cut Press, Agbowó, Libretto, Lunaris Review, Shallow Tales Review, and elsewhere.
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26 Feb 2024

I can’t say any of this to the man next to me because he is wearing a tie
Language blasts through the malicious intentions and blows them to ash. Language rises triumphant over fangs and claws. Language, in other words, is presented as something more than a medium for communication. Language, regardless of how it is purposed, must be recognized as a weapon.
verb 4 [C] to constantly be at war, spill your blood and drink. to faint and revive yourself. to brag of your scars.
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