Pray the Violence By Njoku Nonso

Pray the Violence

against the world’s iris of slaughter, the snake shivering
beneath the dead sky swallows its eggs—who knows

the kind of animals straying behind this wall undressed by
tiger-claw marks and red moonshine?—I begin to wonder

what made men make bullets instead of babies, something
worthy of enfolding a country’s name into the casketof war,

how we can actually unname anything we touch through
the brittle teeth of hunger—are we on the darker side of

the moon? are we so much afraid of love that we live all
our days on earth believing nothing would save us, grounded

by the soft weight of recurring bad omens?—a handful of ash
pours back into the river’s boundless throat, like a claim,

in the name of bloodied history, in the name of mourning
those who did not survive the maw of violence, those who

are born to carry through the night what’s left at their feet—
animal furs, egg shells, blood & more blood, every abstraction

of emptiness & grief—like clods of wet earth on a shovel’s face
after grave-filling—are we on the darker side of the moon?

are the lights blurred to keep us from hurting one another?
sometimes do you feel like there is a snake stuck in your throat?

are you afraid something might slither through the open door
& unmask your death, sudden like a bullet’s arrhythmic song?

On TV, two birds, wild-eyed, picking off food from rotten bones,
look towards heaven as if in prayers & scamper away—

By Njoku Nonso

Njoku Nonso is a Nigerian Igbo-born fiction writer, poet, essayist, and medical student, who lives and writes in/from Ojoto as a tribute to the spirit of Christopher Okigbo. His works are featured or is forthcoming in Bodega, The Shore, Brittle Paper, Animal Heart Press, Palette, Kissing Dynamite, Praxis and elsewhere. He’s currently working on his first poetry chapbook.

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