Three Poems by Adedayo Adeyemi Agarau


Outside, the stars
are heavy.

A god naming everything
once void, once empty.

A ferry & a sea,
each eating each other.

The sky carries a familiar face
& the moon licks the face of water.

The water that gave us flight
didn’t tell us we would die at the bank.

Outside, the stars
are heavy
with names of boys
carried across the sea. 

The Sea might have meant Freedom

I tried to lift that ship. Or was the
boat wooden like cross? The
stars nesting over an unnamed town.
The sea is retreating and leaving.
Each coming carrying a group of men,
shackled and numbered.
My grandfather, in the stillness of the sea
started a song. The sea sang along.

The day the civil war began

after JH Yun’s Sundays for the Faithfuls

We entered the day as innocent as lambs.
The morning came and came. My mother
fed us yam leaves soup and mashed potatoes.
The barking dog became a foreteller. The
radio twitched like nails dug into old walls.
We must have waited this long, dear God, for
the prelude to fire, children redressed in brown earth
& songs beneath pawpaw trees, & the banana
leaves beating itself into consciousness as wind
reaches for its pores, as mothers fanned fire to flames.
We must have waited this long to learn that
running is also staying, a road is an invented house.
My father’s house housed children who knew nothing
but songs. Outside, the sky took in everything the
gunshots offered; a little boy was the first to go.

Adedayo Adeyemi Agarau @adedayo_agarau is a human nutritionist, documentary photographer, and author of two chapbooks, For Boys Who Went & The Arrival of Rain. Adedayo was shortlisted for the Babishai Niwe Poetry Prize in 2018, Runner up of the Sehvage Poetry Prize, 2019. Adedayo is an Assistant Editor at Animal Heart Press, a Contributing Editor for Poetry at Barren Magazine and a Poetry reader at Feral. His works have appeared or are forthcoming on Mineral Lit, Glass, Jalada Africa,Linden Avenue, and elsewhere. Adedayo was said to have curated and edited the biggest poetry anthology by Nigerian poets, Memento: An Anthology of Contemporary Nigerian Poetry. His chapbook, Origin of Names, was selected by Chris Abani and Kwame Dawes for New Generation African Poet (African Poetry Book Fund), 2020. 

Banner Art: “Navigation: Blue” by Robert Frede Kenter

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