the taste of our names
regardless of what the sun’s puissant ray
may tell you of the taste of my flesh,
i am not an emissary who curbs war
and revolts with waves of abandon, bartering
my blackness for packs of bribes
that comes in prayers & eulogies of twelve religions.
rather, i am the name of a man battered
by the harsh whispers of spite, by an eloquence
of lawyers whose tongues are mapped
by geographies of success, globes shaped
like adam’s apple (literally).
i am the ash on sidi bouzid, searching
for the arabic nomenclature for scream, the
tiny providence on the lips of tunisians
that will just say bouazizi.
i am the drowned ghosts of refugees, the
one-minute silences invented by daughters
who only hear about their fathers on confessions
by pirates smooching wooden crosses.
I am the soft natter of juveniles,
the erratic swirl of chibok’s gospels, riding
on the scent of betrayal from judas’s kiss.
i do not have the algorithms to night’s tempest shades,
millenniums crumbling into fragments of decay.
but, this is how i thwart pain, by recounting
the jaded edges of our ancestry with songs,
“she was free in her wildness.
she was a wanderess, a drop of free water.
she belonged to no man & to no city”
— roman payne
the day our aunt, who lives in the city where men
are gods & all other organisms subordinate,
came visiting, we sat underneath the effulgence of dusk,
discussing the wreckage on her skin,
bulging like origami-statues,
tending towards the hopeless refuge of restriction.
it was then we knew of men who buy somatic moons
& seas—the tender arcs & bubbling rears of dames—
just to oil & illume the totem between their thighs.
it was then we knew about the reign of misogyny:
the utility derived from the hatred of all things bright & beautiful.
it was then we knew that the heresies
of self-imposed gods, the barbaric dogmas that annihilate
time & wit, were just creations of certain naysayers
to stifle the girl-child, to make her name dissipate into atoms of rust.
a black Sudanese kid, drowning
in the largeness of his pants,
weaves a basket of history
with the facial hair of his ancestors
just to make ends meet,
while a group of tourists take photographs of him,
soldering them to words. their intentions scorch
like vapors of boiling water
Ajise Vincent is an economist and social researcher based in Lagos, Nigeria. His works have appeared at The Bond Street Review, Indiana Voice Journal, Jawline Review, Jalada, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Chiron Review, Asian Signature, Ann Arbor Review, Yellow Chair Review, Bombay Review, Birmingham Arts Journal, Snapdragon: a journal of art & healing, The Cadaverine, Souvenir literary journal, Cosmonauts, MockingHeart, Vinyl, Saraba, Brittle Paper, Sentinel Quarterly, Elsewhere & various literary outlets. He is a recipient of the Eriata Oribhabor poetry prize 2015. He loves coffee, blondes & turtles.