O-Jeremiah Agbaakin

ode to a-li-bi

borrowed      with the eye      she
reads      like a transliteration      lost
in transit:      meanings shift      grounds
after a second      read      like      this grief
& words are birds      winged or      not.

our fathers took      a big
white loan word      in our name.
my tongue turns into a dead bird
in the cage      of a mouth rigged with
metal      you couldn't tell it's white
my words are      feathers with no      bird.

he gave us      birds      without
wings. & told us to fly
europe proudly      like a kite      in our
mouth.      he swears      by his      holy
oxford      (dictionary) this is the closest
to black      aeronautics      here.

do you say      we were
part      of what sifted      at babel?
do you say      nubians were part      of
the first      mistakes      and not an
afterthought      of      biology: self
later fulfilling its      own      prophecy?



ode to a dead poem

i paint anew. the prompt is: be
fruitful. the antithesis, the gods are
not dead or then, never gods. it is
fucking poetic to bury you with a
poem. silence is a pyre for the stillborn
silence embalms my father's tongue
every night.

in the lounge, a bard tries to pry
God's heart open. do you swear a
poet is always safe? that his pen is
a parody for cutthroat—the sarcasm
is on Homer!
just as i was about
assembling a new world, the tab
goes off: a blind screen.

i am trying
to bear each unit of pain i tuck into
a poem, each laboured breath that
unfurls an empty paper into an
origami dancing around the world.
don't you think it's fucking poetic
to mourn a dead poem? don't you?



O-Jeremiah Agbaakin, a Nigerian poet, holds a law degree from the University of Ibadan. His poems recently appeared on The Brooklyn Review, Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora, Sierra Nevada Review, StepAway Magazine, Riddled With Arrows Journal, and elsewhere. He has received two Pushcart nominations and a Best of the Net nomination. He hopes to finally summon the courage to learn how to ride a bicycle.