Translation Book for a Child Between Countries

by Ojo Taiye

Ojo Taiye is a young Nigerian poet who uses poetry as a handy tool to hide his frustration with society. He is the winner of many prestigious awards including the 2019 Kingdoms in the Wild Poetry Prize for his chapbook All of Us Are Birds and Some of Us Have Broken Wings and the 2019 Broken River Prize for his chapbook Cotton Silence, forthcoming in 2020. In 2019 he was shortlisted for the Brittle Paper Award for his poem “Surveillance Camera” which appeared in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and was the winner of the 2019 Hart Crane Poetry Prize, the Jack Grapes Poetry Prize, and others. His works appear in or are forthcoming from Rattle, Notre Dame Review, Vallum, Temz Review, Palette Poetry, Glass Journal, Savant-Garde Journal, Glintmoon, Icefloe Press, Frontier Poetry, Strange Horizon, Cherry Tree, Willow Review, Cincinnati Review, Mary Journal, and others. You can reach out to him on Twitter.

instead of having to say i’m falling apart because grief is easier to rename, i spend my night
awake & press my back to the dark damp wood of my bed. there’d been black birds flitting
above the crosshatched grass & a howl here so strong it shakes the pawpaw tree. i’m filled with
the need to stay & i choose to stay this time for once with all my deep sins. the world tells me, i
am a tree. i live in a spot on a train’s track that leads to nowhere. i touch myself— & at the next
stop, i meet a girl who wears a stain— the stain on rubble like scarves around her neck. living
can be an act of loss. i don’t know how to define mercy. my mother is a map of holes dressed in
hooded vestment. my father is questioned for marriage fraud. my uncle dies from self-harm in a
detention centre. my sister is a false minor— she wears white & became a shadow. my brother is
a bird we return to the sky as smoke. it’s funny being here & a memory of motion. i’m no one’s
daughter— a child with a hole in her throat. how did i get here? & in my hands, a whisper— war.
what every child knows but rarely discuss. violence is my country’s boyfriend. nothing else cuts
the air quite like this movie of blood blinking lively like popcorns along its numb scar. what
leaves you half dead? what strips the precluded fascination with flowers? what paints you in
colours with the blunt edge of a practiced tongue until grey appears on your earlobes like stoned
cattle? i’ve lost track of the times i have hope for something so simple & sweet to sip:
jawbreakers. i confess i am a double ended wick & i carried it for justice & the wind.


Ojo Taiye is a young Nigerian poet who uses poetry as a handy tool to hide his frustration with society. He is the winner of many prestigious awards including the 2019 Kingdoms in the Wild Poetry Prize for his chapbook All of Us Are Birds and Some of Us Have Broken Wings and the 2019 Broken River Prize for his chapbook Cotton Silence, forthcoming in 2020. In 2019 he was shortlisted for the Brittle Paper Award for his poem “Surveillance Camera” which appeared in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and was the winner of the 2019 Hart Crane Poetry Prize, the Jack Grapes Poetry Prize, and others. His works appear in or are forthcoming from Rattle, Notre Dame Review, Vallum, Temz Review, Palette Poetry, Glass Journal, Savant-Garde Journal, Glintmoon, Icefloe Press, Frontier Poetry, Strange Horizon, Cherry Tree, Willow Review, Cincinnati Review, Mary Journal, and others. You can reach out to him on Twitter.

☝ BACK TO TOP