The Poem in which I Run Out of Names | Adesina Ajala

Tonight bears in its wings the dirge of a thing clattering 
the world in its teeth.

Shrapnel & bombs ricochet that way & this way, shelling
cities into rubble.

& people scamper for safety, force themselves into the mouth 
of another country because their birthplace has become 

a lapping fire. Reminds me of Afghans thronging the bodies 
of planes in Kabul after Taliban takeover. Whenever war news 

grip me before the TV screen, I reach for the brink of silence. 
Tonight, I'm at the brink of silence. Tonight, I hear soft moans
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in Kyiv. This night, sighs run deep in Kharkiv. A Ukrainian 
woman hurls her baby into arms, running for the borders, 

afraid to look at the things bombs have eaten halfway, 
afraid of turning into a pillar of ruin. Tonight, my lines 
reek of bloods, my hand is too heavy to continue this poem.
Come & see bloods stroke the skin of ego. Come & see bloods

oil the wheels of politics. Come, come & see blood murals on the walls 
of Kherson. Every night, after switching between Aljeezera & BBC 

like a pendulum, I borrow new names to numb my pains. Now, I'm 
running out of names. I think of the journeys the people of Ukraine 

are unwilling to make. I think of the split gap between beauty & ruins. 
Each night, after the war correspondent's voice weans off my ears, 

I run my palm over my skin & collect into a soulful soliloquy 
of bloodied flesh & things smouldering. Tonight, a breaking news
 
about this war lingers over my TV screen. & the reporter says it 
with a certain weight in her voice as if she were drowning. I watch
 
a woman sated with the burden for home says to a Russian 
soldier, Take these seeds so sunflowers grow when you die
 
here. I clasp my palms in prayers, clogged words rippling down 
my throat: Peace for Ukraine, for Russia, for everyone running.

©2022 Adesina Ajala
All rights reserved


Adesina Ajala…

…a Nigerian writer, poet & medical doctor, is currently in the 2022 Cohort of the Global Arts in Medicine Fellowship. His poem, “A dirge of Broken Things” wins the 2020/2021 Poetic Wednesdays Initiative Contest. He also win the Ayamba LitCast Essay Contest with his piece, “Daffodils and the Promise of Rebirth” in 2021. His works appear in Afritondo, Mbari, Nantygreens, The Red Letter Journal, The Nigeria Review and elsewhere.

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