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For the lives who left on 20/10/20

At first, it was a protest until bullets cracked
bodies open. In the hands of a strong man in
Camouflage, was a big rifle— a warlike one—
opening fire to unarmed protesters. That night,
an oasis of blood flowed through the country.
Bodies of protesters like fallen leaves on the
ground. Before the massacre wrapped the country
in grief, intrepidly, they sat unaware that death will soon
pick their body away from this Earth. Amid the rampage, a youth
tried to pull out bullets from his stomach. An anatomy
of pain for him that night. They only clamoured for
change, for the age-long brutality by the SARS but their
voices were silenced.

Benin, 2020


Forgive me that I refuse to say amen to the prayer of
the Preacher. The Sermon is tagged: "Rising from ashes"

I'm not listening, I'm buried in my phone. Say, the
sermon is an arrow shooting a failed target. The man

Sitting next to me is fast asleep. I tilt my head to the back,

a pew of members fade into chatter. I'm not the only whose

Attention is divided. The microphone screeches repeatedly—
It understand the watery hope in the preacher's mouth. You

Don't try to revive a country that grooms a tribe of thorns.
Here, the music of grief is heard by everyone. You keep

Praying for light but the country threads the path of darkness.
No day comes without you falling into sad news.

Benin, 2020


I do not know how to start this poem smeared with
the blood of my brothers whose ghosts I see in my dream
wandering homelessly.

My Country made them early birds of death leaving home without
a goodbye or a short note resting on the bed.

Sometimes I imagine why everything in my country is designed
to kill & make you frazzled till grief occupies a home in your body.

You are walking & reeking of grief. & the man beside you
in the bus sits with another grief breathing in his chest.

In Lagos, Seventeen year old Tina became dust after she was
mulled by a stray bullet.

In Benin, a bus rammed into a woman by the roadside
standing with her family after a policeman was sighted in the bus

jerking the steering away from the driver's hand in a failed attempt to extort
money from him.

In Oyo, Jimoh received a bullet in return amid the raging end-SARS protest.

Here, Everything will haunt you & a knee on the neck feels like an easy way to die.


Benin, 2020

Emmanuel Ojeikhodion is an emerging Nigerian-born writer and poet. His writings explore grief, loss, anxiety, love, separation and healing. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in Capsule Stories, Rigorous, Chachalaca Review, The Rising Phoenix Review, New Horizon Creatives, Pangolin Review, African Writer and elsewhere.

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