Father says beware of snakes
walking on two legs—
reptiles who will open the door
of your beautiful name to mispronunciation;

quiz & other you around. This country,
she makes a room inside you
to concatenate her tragedies. This country,

she lets silence nail you to someone else’s guilt—
stirring her own phosphenes inside your closed eyes.

Mo ni dida lo da lo’mo d’egbe, egbe o nse le omo,
watch as destiny quivers & fate squirrels away its intentions.

Sometimes you reach to the throat
of your city just to bring her tongue to worship.
Sometimes, the tongue brought to worship is yours—

riotous chains set to wiggle at the bottom
of a ship wrongly aligned in syzygy to the roaring sea.

Children, if you have come this far,
you’re the beautiful thing I do not have a name for.
Your neighbors thinking you’re incapable

of smiles held your gaze in a tight clasp,
gave you a whole half of their version of smiles.
Half of your world is half of what was given to you.
& better to not think of it as abyssalpelagic crime

for which your city wants you to serve time.
But think of it as terrible trees & ditches—
things that can neither be charged nor summoned

though, they never seem to look where they’re going.

Listen, I never wanted to say anything
about roads & accidents. Never wanted to say
anything about the repeating wounds gadding about
the country of our body. No! I never wanted to

talk about the bullet, in my homeland, that never knock
before it entered. Jacob told God: I will not let you go.

He gave his left leg the way I gave my right arm.
Still, someone questions where I received permission
to love the country I dare to call your own?

Fathers, I say to you: beware
of the brisk men who crawl on their bellies
to bring you apples. Soon, when your garden is gone,

their singular ambition will be to strike your heels.