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Burning & Massacre | Praise Osawaru

written after the Lekki Massacre on October 20, 2020

after Daniel Borzutzky’s Written After a Massacre in the Year 2018

there is no flag that’ll shield you from the dispersion of bullets

there is no song that’ll impede darkness from descending

     & receding light into memory

the shadows breathes death at us     the vessels of darkness don uniforms

&     sling demise into our body &     deaden any pulse of hope

&     bleed our future in trickles of crimson

look     we’ve spoken & are speaking & our voices

have extended across the globe [like a tie around the neck]

     just look     at the stage

there is a man in white with a fervid grin carved across his face

I die every time I see the cadavers of youths

who thirsted for the appearance of light

not the promise of oblivion

look     we do not bear silence in our name

do not forget that bodies slumped [like fallen trees]

     at the puncture of bullets

do not forget that the army deadened young voice

do not forget that the government is a knife plunging her citizens

pray loudly into the expanse for the undoing of darkness

the only air in this country is corruption

     [& we will no longer breathe in death & breathe out life]


Praise Osawaru (he/him) is a writer of Bini descent. A Best of the Net nominee, his work appears or is forthcoming in FIYAH, Frontier Poetry, Down River Road, Rigorous Magazine, The Lit Quarterly, and The Maine Review, among others. An NF2W Poetry scholar, he’s the second-place winner of the Nigerian NewsDirect Poetry Prize 2020 and a finalist for the 2021 Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Prize & the 2020 Awele Creative Trust Award. He’s a reader for Barren Magazine and Chestnut Review. Find him on Instagram & Twitter: @wordsmithpraise.