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Waking, Or Knife-cuts like Questions on my Left Wrist

“I wake up and on the other side of the bed

is a name that claims me. I cannot

conjure what I was before that moment: rays

slicing through the wood door are knife cuts like

the questions on my left wrist. What is a man?

I contemplate for a moment, but a moment is also

a lifetime, and I am on my deathbed.

I turn and throw a final greeting at the name

that claims me: What is a man?

 

Breaking a Fall

sitting on a branch in company of dusk,

a soul opens heavenwards

shares secrets only his thought

and the air can hear

 

a mild breeze responds

speaking the tongue of leaves

 

it says—

this oracle speaking in the tongue of leaves—

 

nothing is

 

the soul concurs

jumps off the branch

 

a kind noose stretches

to catch him around the neck . . .

 

for humans who are scars

when they finally

find our names

hanging

from the sun

remind them

how our tongue

was fire

how that fire

hissed god

how god

was a war

we could never survive

tell them

survival was an abyss we fell into

tell them

we could never

stop falling. . .

 

About the Author:

D. E. Benson’s review has appeared on Brittle Paper. A student at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, he was Custodian of The Writers’ Community (TWC) in the university and the organizer of Poetry Friday UNN, a poetry and spoken word event. He was Poetry Editor of the university literary journal, The Muse.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, an academic, and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review ("Mulumba," 2016), Transition ("A Tenderer Blessing," 2015), and in an anthology of the Gerald Kraak Award for which he was shortlisted ("You Sing of a Longing," 2017). His work has further been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship in 2016 and a Pushcart Prize in 2015. He attended the 2018 Miles Morland Foundation Creative Writing Workshop. He is the curator of the ART NAIJA SERIES, a sequence of themed e-anthologies of writing and visual art exploring different aspects of Nigerianness. The first, ENTER NAIJA: THE BOOK OF PLACES (October, 2016), focuses on cities in Nigeria. The second, WORK NAIJA: THE BOOK OF VOCATIONS (June, 2017), focuses on professions in Nigeria. He studied History and Literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is currently completing a postgraduate programme in African Studies and Pop Culture, and teaches English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, and is working on a novel. He is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. When bored, he just Googles Rihanna.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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