Requiem for a Democracy


The distance between the bullet   & the body
is a protest poem; I too am just a metaphor

away from filling a grave, I will bless today
if it closes outside a coffin.   This earth is

a chapel of names   torn from their bloodline;
we tell Kola to greet an ancestor as a shovel

reddens his skin.   & read funeral as police,
read officer as autopsy, their black uniform;

black magic—just a sleight of hand & Jimoh
begins to bloodlet.   I swear, my youth is pass

for an arrest.   Somewhere, a cell reeks of
boys beaten into clumps.   We know of a river

clotted by cadavers;   Chijioke‘s father waded
through the water for the body of his son.

& is it not suicidal, to be young in this land?
Each new day is a prayer   to never know the

wetness of our blood;   we say, let wherever
this body touches be softer than a bullet.

For in this country, everything is fashioned
for your grief—the wind is a gun, the trees

the mouth of a gun.




This poem is the first in our Voices for Change in Nigeria limited series, in response to the #EndSARS protest movement. Three more Nigerian authors will publish their poems with us this week—stay tuned!

Samuel Adeyemi