It is Impossible to Live


Perhaps grace is a tangible thing
only to the one who watches another bleed.

The bullet misses
but its destination,

yet, is called
a stray: how grace is a function of probability.

Joy…      What, exactly
Joy…      is that?

Mid-writing this poem, I could be stilled
by an officer’s fury for my tattoos, for my
denim jacket, for my age

& getting home, holding his
little daughter, he—with his crooked
index—would graze her nose and whisper I love you:
I consider this cruelty.

When Jimoh died, the sky was perfect. I consider
this cruelty. When Ikechukwu died, the sun did not flicker.
I consider this cruelty.

Keep me away from forgiveness or grace.
It is possible to live with anger
unashamedly, the way we do with dirt
in our ears.





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

Pamilerin Jacob