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Bayo Aderoju: Two Poems

on the radio, the pastor preaches how

to be like a tree planted by rivers of water


how do you paddle a paper boat?

god, i’m no longer the captain of this ship,

my soul sinking fast as sand. i feel

like the metaphor: the chaff which the wind driveth away.

this is the thing. my heart is leached

out. grief, the percolating fluid. loss

the pickpocket drains me in installments

like in august when gravity pulls clouds

& soft rain pours & pours & earth gulps & gulps

like the proverbial fly that’ll rather die in paradise of froth.

wait, i hear the ground screeching:

another bridge giving way. whistled elegy.

1960    1963    1978   1980   2011

in ibadan, yemoja is not our friend.

but that is untrue. all river path is still blocked.

a creature still lives in denial of other creatures.

on the radio, the pastor preaches how

to be like a tree planted by rivers of water.

in my mind, i picture buffer strips.

when he mentions expiation – crucifying flesh,

my heart churns & churns

like cluttered bowel of an unholy city & i

begin by roasting it in embers of prayers.




Portrait of Boy’s Skull as Bull’s Eye


Black Summer: the last time fire razes forests in Australia,

I see the stranded deer.

They remind me, glass clear, of home.

Of another kind of fire ranging here

untamed. I remember the Asa’s sonority

that supposes to, but arouses nobody.

I think the metaphor is the issue.

Actually, it isn’t any mountain,

no mountain but the roof’s ablaze.


Tomorrow, another bullet will hit another boy’s skull.

Fatherless. He will be on his way back from school

or mosque or synagogue

or the factory where he daily courts

delicate solutions & machines without PPE.

His mum sells sachet water in traffic.


Tomorrow, another cathedral will explode.

Another farmer will lose his head like a butcher’s beast.

Another 200 girls will be plucked unripe

from school & will by the way of blood

or reddened sheet wed strange men in a strange forest.


You’ll say it’s hoodlums.

You’ll say it’s bandits.

You’ll say it’s unknown gunmen.

You’ll say…

A dart hits the bull’s eye,

a bullet hits a boy’s skull

but you will call it stray.


& opium causes the slumber.

This deep slumber of heavy snorers

soiling God’s sacred garment with spittle escaping

through the fallen gates of improvident mouths.


& opium – piety unbridled

causes this slumber.



Poems © Bayo Aderoju

Image by Vicky Vitullo from Pixabay

Bayo Aderoju
Bayo Aderoju
Bayo Aderoju is a poet, dramatist, essayist, fiction and non-fiction writer from Nigeria. His latest fiction work has been selected for inclusion in the forthcoming United Nations Economic Commission for Africa's Decade of Action Short Stories Anthology. His works appear/forthcoming on Agbowo (Chaos, 2021 Issue), Brittle Paper, Stellium, African Writer, The Shallow Tales Review and elsewhere. He tweets @bayo_aderoju.

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