―with Uche Ezenwa-Ohaeto

Something sits on my heart like night sits on day:
A verdant lush too heavy to pass through my throat.
In one night, rivers redden where bone-rubble, limbs float.
Here, mother is a name for a woman whose children do not return home after nightfall.
And stories grow inside mouths as bombs are feasts falling like raindrops.
Here, father is an open wound; his head a mosaic of bullet holes.
My heart is weighed down by dead butterflies. And wingless crickets.
The ventricles of my home are fields filled with dead bodies.

My heart is a cave harboring shelves
Of losses: like children’s bones buried in the sands;
Like herdsmen’s bullet holes found in skulls; like families’ tears for those
Wallowed by uncontrolled flood; like villages fed with grief
For their farms strangled by oil spillages.

Each time I look about me and see the clusters
Of deaths, I am hurt. Yet my hands, slender
As prayers, fondle the soft rustle of hope.

Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto

Chinua is from Owerri-Nkworji in Nkwerre, Imo state, Nigeria and grew up between Germany and Nigeria. He has a Chapbook, The Teenager Who Became My Mother (Sevhage Publishers). He became a runner-up in Etisalat Prize for Literature, flash fiction (2014). He won the Castello di Duino Poesia Prize for an unpublished poem (2018), which took him to Italy. He was the recipient of New Hampshire Institute of Art’s 2018 Writing Award, and also the recipient of New Hampshire Institute of Art’s 2018 scholarship to its MFA Program. In 2019, he was the winner of Sevhage/Angus Poetry Prize and second runner-up in 5th Singapore Poetry Contest. He won the First Prize in the Creators of Justice Literary Award, Poetry category, organized by International Human rights Art Festival, New York (2020). His works have appeared in Lunaris Review, AFREADA, Poet Lore, Rush Magazine, Frontier, Palette, Malahat review, Southword Magazine, Vallum, Mud Season Review, Salamander, Strange Horizons, One, Ake Review, Crannòg magazine, The Question Marker and elsewhere.

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