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how a bloody night of bullets squashed a young protest movement

after Adedayo Agarau

the heavens complement our anthem with a light descent
of rain. we seek asylum in everything that doesn't look like
the mouth of a gun. everything that is not set out to swallow

our body. our mothers shed another skin for survival &
say: every city in this country is a death sentence. we still
watch playbacks of green hats & white shoes on the telly.

— another day begins like every other day: when troops of youths
escort gloom to its rightful place; when their voice is translated
to morph into an elephant tearing down all herns of their country.

another boy in this poem as a sacrifice to the callings of the
godfathers. another mother bids farewell with rose flowers.
another father recounts the tale of innocent years. another

friend lines up his worries in order of preference. i am
in this poem as a lost soul & tears on either lids of my
eyes drop in form of rosary beads. another worshipper

of ruin mocking death with morsels of eba at a jamboree
ongoing on a country's mouthful realm. this country
eats her people & her people lick their wounds to avoid

bullet wounds. everyone here is missing. this country yields
nothing fruitful. everyone here is missing. now we are ready to
wear our fathers' faces to afterlife but CNN Africa still reads:

                          They pointed their guns at us and started shooting.

Lagos, 2020

after Honoré de Balzac

Even hyenas laugh at how we crawl
out of our shelters each day into these wild
lands like endangered species. The birds still
hope to sing praises of our names with
heightened sonants but we hate to find love
in hate. We only thrust at changes when
we halt our gaits. Though the godfathers
who sit at the helm of affairs do not resemble
simpletons but apparently looks can be
deceptive. I live in a country whose people eat
gorges in form of bread and circuses — whose
heart is a deep abyss at the bottom of which
you will always find forgiveness.
Red names
on white slates. I envision this country as a
sanctuary away from all the cruelty of the
world. The haven I seek is home & I do not
have to go to heaven to reach it. The heaven we
seek is on our palms & one day these palms
will embellish this country . . .             & when that
time comes, we will all stand in front of
a mirror without fear of seeing monsters of our
own making. We will gather in unity the way
flies gather around a honey pot, the way
ants are attracted to urine. The dream of a
better tomorrow will keeps us awake all night &
our mouths will cease to be a black hole to our
children & our children's children & we will
clap our hands . . .            for prosperity.

Lagos, 2020


after Tanaya Winder

Forgive me! I draw
portraits of Faust as Christ. I seek

salvation from the reaper's grip,
maybe, just maybe I could escape father's wrath.

Father enjoys Gregorian Chants.
He often mistakens my silence for disbelief. My eyes

often promise faith. The skies tonight
promise snowfall. The canorous echoes of combustibles

clapping in the chimney corner promise
warmth. Winter is here. I am still waiting to be found.

The sight of moka pots
forces me to bed. I grow an assortment of tingles

in my belly. Forgive me!
I still draw portraits of Faust as Christ.

Lagos, 2020

Olaitan Humble is a writer of African heritage. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee for Poetry, an aviphile and pacifist who enjoys reading satire, and collecting quotations and astrophotos. He won the People's Choice Award in Earnest Writes Poetry Prize, 2020. His work appears in The African Writers Review, Luna Luna Magazine, and Doubleback Review, among others.

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