The Grand Opera of Boko Haram by Emari DiGiorgio

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy


after Henry Reed’s “Naming of Parts”

Here’s where the instruments of torture break into song. Earlier,
an open cargo truck, a skulk of men in sweat-stained fatigues.
And later, we shall have what to do after the rapes. But here, here
the instruments of torture break into song. Doe-eyed girls
in plaits learn algebra on handheld slates, solve for x and y,
          And the instruments of torture break into song.

An eyeless machete rears up on its handle. Its blade
is a Cheshire grin. A chorus line of leggy grenades         
palms safeties, upturns jowly Buddha faces,            
which implies a compassion they have not got. If we add
zero to any number, we will end up with the same number,
          which implies a stability we have not got.

No gossip’s brindle or iron maiden where a pair of scissors
or hot coals will do. And please do not let me see anyone
using his finger. You can convert the girls quite easily,
watch the smallest start to weep. A peddler sells twice
as many pears in the afternoon after letting everyone
          touch any of them using their fingers.

And this you can see is a whip, with a voice for soprano
arias. Hear how the notes turn steel-blue block walls
and concrete slab to calm seas, cloudless sky: we call this
a cappella. Calm seized. Clouds sigh. We must be careful
not to make mistakes when dealing with negative signs:        
          They call it Deus ex Machina.                    

They call it the finale: it is quite easy
when the smallest starts to weep: like the whip,
and the barrel’s open mouth, and the blade and burnt house,
which implies a hope we have not got; and the location
of the girls is unknown: halfway between sea and sky,
          they’re instruments of torture, broken song.


Photo of Emari DiGiorgio

Photo of Emari DiGiorgio

Emari DiGiorgio is a recipient of two Vermont Studio Center Residencies, a New Jersey State Council on the Arts Poetry Fellowship, and the Ellen LaForge Memorial Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in numerous literary journals, including the Blueshift Journal, Mead, Poetry International, Smartish Pace and Tupelo Quarterly. She teaches writing at Stockton University, is a visiting Poet-in-the-Schools through the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the Dodge Poetry Foundation, and facilitates World Above, a monthly open mic and featured reading series at Dante Hall in Atlantic City.