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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 Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize and the 2019 Miles Morland Writing Scholarships. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He attended the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he got an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies and English & Literary Studies. He taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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