A Game of Numbers

Say an arbitrary night
(could be moonless or not
depending on the mood of the universe
and if she is interested in this play set
before us)
say a man
our protagonist
walks into a street and the
street swallows him whole
say in this street he stumbles
into another man’s dream
our antagonist
say he gets trapped
and our antagonist walks up to him
with a branch of olive in hand
offering him terms of freedom
‘A game of number and words’
to see how much of memory he carried
with him into this dream:

59?

27.05.14
in a Northern night
accompanied by Northern stars
59 boys embraced sleep, warmly
some of our boys are dreaming
of water and girls
(some people call this a wet dream)
some, of home
somewhere safe from canes and bullies and homework
have their dreams interrupted by a bearded reality
carrying the name of god in a turban
seeking atonement for the sins of Western education
with guns and bombs and fear
 
in Buni Yadi
59 martyrs died for the iniquities of a Western education
but we still don’t have salvation
4?violence is a living word
a living-breathing word4 boys walked into a quiet town
and we rushed to welcome them
with kisses of  fire and gasoline
watched it spread through the roofs
of mouths that begged for god and rain
while we watched with rage-deafened ears
as fire painted white bones blackin Aluu,
before 1000 judges
8 eyes burnt into darkness
and we called it justice1?
tragedy has many portraits
it could be a mother
whispering lyrics of an old song
into the ears of a deaf toddler
or a boy waking up
in the shoes of a man he used to call father
smelling of alcohol
and uncertainty
but there is a picture of tragedy
that has painted itself on the walls of my mind
that I have tried to clean and clean
but won’t go away:
1 man –
an old friend
hung on a tree
(by a crowd who once called him teacher) –
chanting
‘Eli,
Eli,
lema
sabachthani’
Memory is not enough
There are dreams that never end.
Image: “Self-Portrait” by Aisha Daniels.
Afolabi Boluwatife

Afolabi Boluwatife is a 4th Year Clinical student at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan. He is currently working on his first chapbook of poetry. His poems have been published on Kalahari Review, Kollectiv, Africanwriter, Expound Magazine, Praxis Magazine and some editorial boards at the University.

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