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Griefcase & Other Poems

Prosper Ìféányí 


The prelude to this bruise takes flight when the body

cannot tell wound from hound. I bite my eyes shut to the

bullet holes door enough to let in anguish to the blue

body. I long for mornings when baying dogs find their

masters' taut legs kicking. I pretend that the

sprawled bodies on television are overgrown

grass. I pretend that my mother didn't just call

to ask me to come home. As I quicken  my legs and

mud-stained heels on this path, I wonder if this is how

Deborah Yakubu would have moved if she knew Allah

didn't have an ark ready to take her in. In this poem, I

turned the family portrait facedown because that is all

there is to dispersion caused by trigger-happy hands.

In the North, a father is drenched like a wet moccasin

immersed in logged waters— if Armageddon was a place

its capital would be his heart; man, who has just lost his

cow, his child, and his wife to his country. In the quest to

save life, we lose it, and most often, in the most precarious

of ways. To my right, is Nina Simone singing without a

body. To my left, kerosene lanterns howling

when night throws itself on the house of the wretched.

Loss is the prerequisite for grief. Come, all those who

haven't known loss, to the wreck of the Titanic. Assume

spades for tongues, and excavate what you see.

Is it the watery torrent grappling the throats of curious

explorers? The rough-tongued gale dragging bodies

of members of a household into its dark coatless face?

Now that I know this pain, I cannot fathom relief. That

my mother, wherever she is, will walk the underworld

without a face. I am wondering what happens when people

leave. Where do they go? Do they have mouths to eat

the broken wails of their beloved? Do they know of grief?

I am climbing out of God, my Father. Out of his love, a

wet shine over me. I have seen the massacre of bodies

in His churchyard, and how He has grown a

bush. Untethered head nestling in an end that is yet to

come. I have become bloated with want. I have become

tipped with smoke— I have got more hunger than my

body can hold. Cabals mistaking the sound of a lonely

woman for a smoking gun under their roost—politicians

playing the game of language in sharp turns: hijacked

protest by bandits. Anything to remain on the sit of power.

On nights like these, the body's pavement becomes a

skin-tight drum, even the gnashed teeth is taken for piano keys.


Religio-Medical History

The meds are working more than your prayers.

                         —Nonso Njoku in Boston Review


Time and time again, we have upturned

the bluebottles      in a sink & watched dragon

 & grey spotted flies     nestle on the kitchen's


Anxiety    pegged at fifty &    the theatrics of

dying  like a sheaf

in  a clotted water    looms over the shade of the

banks.     Shards of glass   tucked under

the wilting skin

     of your throat—the yellow of the sun, & the

silvery bulb of rain   on your skin    shimmers

your  soul like the  gloss-bellied  wood frogs  on


Your mother makes you

a match of prayers,     tells you to ignite each

stick   if you feel  the       scythe-edge of pain:

she calls  ulcer the devil's work.   When you ask

her how

this   is possible, she says:

the devil spun    fat cobwebs   clogging up your

   lungs,  that is why you  can't   have beans or

pepper seeds      in your meal.

The meds are still

prophylactic    like thickened wine;    I know them

by   their colours  & how

they leave   blotched stains  upon the tongue's


Some appear    like the blue glittery bottom

has been

    covered  by the green ones,   others stay inert

like threshed corns    inked up like

  jam pots.

I scribbled    their names in a     mouse-grey

journal:  anodyne... something shirrup—

 I always felt    like crying:

cupping  those              white pottery bomb pills

in the soft-wet  palm of

my tongue—  I am still ashamed  that the meds

are working

more than my mother's prayers.


Prosper C. Ìféányí writes from Nigeria. His works have recently appeared/is forthcoming in South Dakota Review, Magma Poetry, Black Warrior Review, New Delta Review, Salt Hill, The Westchester Review, The Offing, Variant Literature, New Note Poetry Anthology, and elsewhere. His debut micro-chapbook, Sermon (Ghost City Press), appears in 2023. He has a B.A in English and Literary Studies from Delta State University.


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