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While We Forget Gods & Cockroaches

current reality — my father

ties & rapes me

every night

predictable future — what doesn’t kill

you fold you

into half a yellow sun


Substitute Descriptions for Flowers in My Country

a. fireflies in groping pursuit

in a room that spills sleeping satyrs,

criss-cross prayers to an

unknown God is a room full of

bleached bones.

b. bliss & grief — in a war everyone

learns something (including birds).

c. an adopted language // not every poem

is swallowed properly.

d. you must know knees can buckle

in a swollen stream //

e. tongues brace bodies made of beeswax,

drenched in unholy heartbeats

f. preface to falling angels // cursed

not to have, not to (be)hold

g. a (b)right song folding into silence,

into dislocation is why solitude is a foster home

h. leftovers of every(any)thing burnt //

dissolves bodies in a city // buttoning a revolution,

i. sandwiched between a father's horror

& a mother's prayer that failed to resurrect

j. 11 bullets, fire, fists,

anything that promises thunder

12 naming flowers into graves // is a doorway out

photosynthesis.


The soldier masturbates under the big breasted baobab tree before taking 10 notes

on what lies beyond the road

i. the burden of desert storms, fire

& shadows — the anatomy of a country

that promises you nothing but ash.

ii. stale words, naked

& fluttering in an empty room;


iii. a girl child's laughter caught

between enemy lines;


iv. lost screams from the holes that

will roam in your throat until they

that promises you nothing but ash. stale words, naked


v. a clutter of faltering hands,

a wrinkled sunrise

— PTSD growing up between cobblestones;


vi. a dream is outgrown sitting on a wheelchair

— metal for what used to be your leg;


vii. a medal of honour that dangles on the

wall like a bad memory;


viii. the distance to the music in her eyes,

separated by a skyline that poops bullets;


ix. voices calling home;


x. the stillness before and after

a wingless song sinks.




About The Poet

Othuke Umukoro is a poet & playwright. His demons have appeared, or are forthcoming in The Sunlight Press, Brittle Paper, AfricanWriter, Sprinng Literary Magazine, Eunoia Review & elsewhere. His debut play, Mortuary Encounters, is now available in Okadabooks.com. When bored, he watches Everybody Hates Chris. He is on twitter @othukeumukoro19

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