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To Court A War: Poetry by Iyanu Adebiyi


the person you want to hug
is a country on fire
the lips you want to kiss
are nuclear weapons
the hands you want to hold
are cities exploding with bombs
his eyes are tiny insurgencies
the army failed to stop
his nose is the muzzle
of a double barreled gun
his heart is teeming
with dead bodies
you want this man to love you,
when he is busy surviving
a war?



love does not ache         does not abuse
does not forget to say ‘i love you too’
does not make you compete,
hate the other women,     hate yourself
make you cry             make you bleed
put you in the fire, leave your body burning
or put out the fire, leave your body stumbling
        in darkness             with cold
does not take away your power,
shut you out of home.             love
does not disappear & reappear
as monster,             drag you by the hair
through the teeth of death
love is not             is not         is not danger
it is none of these things that
wake you up                 with a fist
until your lungs are better at drowning than at breathing
love is nothing the trauma taught you –
swallow your voice, stuff your bones with cynicism,
call your body ugly, cut yourself, play
dead, shove your soul into a coffin –
it is not pretense, not apology as magic wand
to erase the bruises
it is not shame             not heartbreak             not rape
love         is         not         pain

i may not know what love is
but i know what it’s not.

Poetry © Iyanu Adebiyi
Image: remixed

Iyanu Adebiyi
Iyanu Adebiyi
Iyanu Adebiyi is a Nigerian poet and spoken-word artist. She stepped into the scene on 1st October 2016 with Up Nepa. In 2017, her spoken-word video ‘I am Something’, won second place in the U.S Mission Nigeria Unity in Diversity Video Competition. In Abuja, Iyanu Adebiyi has performed in open mic, formal and informal events. Her poems and videos can be found on social media (@iyanuadebiyi). Called to the Nigerian Bar and practicing Corporate Law, Adebiyi is currently working on her forthcoming spoken word album.


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