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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.
Current Issue
25 Sep 2023

People who live in glass houses are surrounded by dirt birds
After a century, the first colony / of bluebirds flew out of my mouth.
Over and over the virulent water / beat my flame down to ash
In this episode of  Critical Friends , the Strange Horizons SFF criticism podcast, Aisha and Dan talk to critic and poet Catherine Rockwood about how reviewing and criticism feed into creative practice. Also, pirates.
Writing authentic stories may require you to make the same sacrifice. This is not a question of whether or not you are ready to write indigenous literature, but whether you are willing to do so. Whatever your decision, continue to be kind to indigenous writers. Do not ask us why we are not famous or complain about why we are not getting support for our work. There can only be one answer to that: people are too busy to care. At least you care, and that should be enough to keep my culture alive.
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