What I Spilled After the Block, Or
How on Earth do I Begin Again to Love?

— for 20th October 2020 casualties.

This is the first poem I have written
in weeks. I’m trying not to look

too closely at every word. There are
blood clots in my head. Blood 

clots in the phone screen flat on my
palms. Living the Nigerian dream

was all we asked for. None of us saw 
this coming — the trigger-happy 

military men, the bodies blown open
like jars of glass and their 

#EndSARS placards now tanned 
sheets in the mud.

After today, how do I begin to love
this country once again? What is 

the benefit of the doubt when all I 
remember is the sound of guns. 

Each time we leave we are shot on 
the way. Tell me: which country 

swallows up her citizens for 
protesting, for talking loud enough?

Three weeks of writer’s block and this is
all I have — blood clots for 

a poem, placards, a soldier’s cold 
thumb, all the bodies 

hollowed out by something 
heavy and Nigerian.

Now I know that there is no muse
more briefly-worded than grief.

History Book

if it were my will, let this cup of sorrow 
be lifted from my body
      and tossed into fire.

even christ dreads the aftermath of

& everything misshapen by heat. I 
shove this black skin into a history book,

grief outpouring from every page. each
time we leave and return scanty,
      i bruise my feet

as a monument to all that we 
outran on the way

and for every name we shoveled into the 
soil. i’m heartbroken and scared.

sometimes i don’t know how I’ll start
over when this is all over,

and these bodies come asking to be 
carried into the beginning

when there was no sorrow
& fire was only an illusion.

About the Author:

Chiwenite Onyekwelu is a 20-year-old Nigerian writer. He was a runner up for the 2020 Foley Poetry Contest, a finalist for the Stephen A. Dibiase Poetry Contest 2020, winner of the Christopher Okigbo Poetry Prize 2019, as well as the 2nd prize winner of the Newman Writing Contest 2017. His writings explore the themes of identity, religion, animal injustice, the environment, home, pedophilia and other ways a child is maimed. His works have appeared or are forthcoming from America MagazineBrittle PaperSub-Saharan Magazine, the Kreative Diadem issue: Isolation and elsewhere. Chiwenite edits poetry for the Sub-Saharan Magazine, and attempts to play the guitar once in a while.

Feature image by Yuri_B from Pixabay