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is to be hungry like a boat; stomach stretching out
unto a wholesome waterflesh. is to gorge the ocean’s lilac

with the moon littered on its flesh. the throat erected
as an anthill. to smudge the body as a colony of disclosures

woven with footprints of all the ghosts sieved into the earth.
tell me how to eat a ghost till the mouth is full of peaches.

to disappear into a song wide enough to drown is to hold a light
to the chest and repeat a happy song till it becomes a blade

on the tongue. my chest is a sky-rack of immaculateness,
a cheesecloth adjusted to keep birds from nesting.

a child recognizes his parents by the hands that feed him,
I swear the first parent I ever knew was the absence of one.

my father was rafted over waters. my tears chart his body,
a sloppy dash, in the verbatim of the heart’s favourite expelling.

the best human conversation is the silence
that warms the heart. the latitude is measured out of grief.

the soft accentuation, music’s favourite threshold.

it is tough to remember my father because his face is a road
swallowed up by fog. I cast my emptiness with the song

cataloguing enough ash in my voice. my soul is the oasis
inside his eyes, an origami placed before a calcified wind.



Wale Ayinla is a Nigerian poet, essayist, and editor. His works recently appeared or are forthcoming in Guernica, Cultural Weekly, South Dakota Review, Rhino Poetry, UpTheStaircase Quarterly, The LitQuarterly, Cimarron Review, Slipstream, Ruminate Magazine, McNeese Review, Waccamaw, Poet Lore, Palette Poetry, and elsewhere.
Current Issue
21 Sep 2022

There is little more inspirational than a writer who devotes her talents to the work of others.
I was twelve when my mother was born. Twelve or thereabouts. If I’d been older, I could have said things like I never wanted to be a daughter; I don’t have a filial bone in my body. Relatives could have tilted their heads at me, insisting I’d change my mind. But I was twelve so I said nothing. I had no relatives.
a few miles from the fallout zone. / You double-check the index card
Unripe morning / cut open too soon
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