Two Poems by Adedayo Adeyemi Agarau

What I lost

After Michael Ondateeje’s What we lost

My lover called me a dog because my nose is wet with fear.
In a dream where all is night and nothing is near, I stand
by the shore watching you wreck. A battalion of stars sinking
before the sky. So if God decides to let it rain, I will be feeding you back
to dust, O fear! I wear my father’s dress to war. At the battle,
we dance with names in each other’s mouths. I say I am little,
and you say you are fire. There is power in a mouth that knows
what to say. I am burning the house my father built the night
he crashed against my mother’s sea. Sopona o.
Every road out of your mouth is a fresh ruin. I sit inside.


After “At Willard Brook” – Adrienne Rich

What is a country if it takes you to slaughter;
Abram lifting a knife without the name of Jehovah.

The difference between blood and water is
one leans against the other’s tongue.

A knife speaks into a boy’s throat
& the first thing he felt was thirst.

I open your wounds & God’s eyes probe
into mine; your skin was too soft for a knife’s healing.

A country saddles its lineage home;
the skin does not translate to salvation.

Today, at close range, three policemen
were shot. Instead of blood, they bled water.

Instead of water, they bled fruits,
everything aching all at once.

Adedayo Adeyemi Agarau @adedayo_agarau is a Nigerian poet and documentary photographer. He is a graduate of Human Nutrition. Adedayo was shortlisted for the Babishai Niwe Poetry Prize in 2018, Runner up of the Sehvage Poetry Prize, 2019. He was the runner-up of the Eriata Oribhabor Poetry Prize 2017. Adedayo is the Assistant Editor for Poetry at Animal Heart Press, the Contributing Editor for Poetry at Barren Magazine. His works have appeared or are forthcoming on Gaze, Glass, Jalada Africa, 8 Poems, Hellebore, Headway Lit, Nitrogen House and elsewhere. Adedayo is curating and editing a Nigerian Poetry Anthology. His chapbook, Origin of Names, was selected by Chris Abani and Kwame Dawes for African Poetry Book

Banner Image: “Dragonflies” by Robert Frede Kenter

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