When the Sounds of Fallen Patriots Break into the Wind, I Will Play Dead, by Olalekan Daniel Kehinde

Tonight, I have promised
not to write after my country’s terror
no matter how many .22 calibers
drop dead from cartridges, or a colony
of compatriots disperses into
the wilderness of boneyards. I want
to forget everything about this land for once
like an armed force misplaces his bullets in
the ribs of a schoolboy. I, faithful
to my country, will ransack the skeletons
into a music deaf to its very own woes.
Will it not be treason if I spread the bones
of my country like raggedy linen to the scorn
of the world, even though I see temptations
of guns shooting like stars into black bodies,
every trigger pulled, a way to pluck words from
my mouth? But I have drunk from the same
calabash with this my land, bloodstains
crimsoning my mouth with oaths, and the gods
have their ears wedged in the hems of the winds
that fly at nights, even during days. So let all
the violence take many souls like mackerels
snatched from the ebbs of the tides into
the falcon’s claws, massacres slashing the country
into history of dust. O let the night burn
in damnation of smoke, beauty, and silence,
until there is no longer flesh vulnerable to
the language of fire. The debris that lies cold under
my feet will never form into words in my mouth,
no matter the breaths of people who sow
their lives into its body. Tonight is not that time
to cast lights upon my country, shadows
of loss caricaturing on the platter of bones, for
I have promised not to write about terror even if
the antelopes are ripped into halves in the tiger’s
saber teeth, or if the fowler’s gunpowder
sings misty lullabies into the ears of the night.
Must I not learn to forgive a land where the birds
still have nests to rest their feathers in?
Tonight, when the drum calls, bodies will dance
to its woes, but I will not hear, nor see it.
Not me. Not me. Not me.

Olalekan Daniel Kehinde (he/him), NGP XII, is an award-winning poet. His poems have recently appeared or forthcoming in Poetry Column NND, SprinNG, Agbowó, miniskirt magazine, Gyroscope Review, Isele Magazine and lots more. He studies English and Literature Education as an undergraduate in the University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria. He is on Instagram and Twitter as @dapenmustgrow

Return to Issue #34 | Support The Deadlands

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top