what can you say to a man suffocating behind barricades of bricks? let's say you've been to a city, where damp night air moves around empty streets, & bodies, caged till their bones bleach white. say you've seen an abandoned city, where viruses ruled— still rules as if humans were dead. but we didn't die—we disappeared & made our shadows allies. yesterday, a man died & was laid with unspoken prayers. they say families come together to show love & say goodbye to loved ones, but silent prayers are the sincerest form of love. across the alley, a house stands empty. no sound, not even by dogs. all you hear is fear knocking on the doors. it's July & the streets are filled with rain, drops echo in long puddles. the days are silent. I talk, no response. maybe we're deaf. in my emptiness, months turn into spring & leap away. from my louvers, I spend cold nights. no words—a loner staring at the twilight as despair creeps in. for twilight is the safest place to hide a man suffocating, till earth breathes again
Ókólí Stephen Nonso is a Nigerian writer whose poems have previously appeared in Feral, Ngiga Review, Praxis Magazine, African writer, Adelaide Literary Magazine New York, and elsewhere. He’s a joint winner of the May 2020 Poets in Nigeria (PIN) 10 day poetry challenge. His short story has appeared in Best of African literary magazine. You can follow him on: Twitter @OkoliStephen7 Instagram @Okoliwest90 Facebook Ókólí Stephen.