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boyying (v.3)

Adedayo Agarau

halleluyah, the boys cried from inside the church, & i was one of them.

centuries to come, a group of boys will pick five stones & bring down a bird

or burn a house or talk the demon out of their pockets. years ago, a packet of boys

went wild in a park & broke someone’s side mirror, a man forgetting how young & wild

he once was called the police. now that is the beauty of forgetting your own iniquities.

i tried to drown myself in my father’s bath-tub, made a jordan out of his inheritance.

this is because i got grief the size of a hand. watch the way it takes the shape of a fist.

i dreamt that something beat me out of sleep, & i wake up with a skin full of scars

a long line of amens made from cane-shapes. that morning, i broke the mirror.

i wrote a poem sometime & said that grief has no gender. but now i understand

that boy grief is the way the ground swallows a city all at once. why god created man

was because he was lonely. the purest grief is found in a lonely palm. god knew what

he did when he plucked eve out of a crumbling bone. i hit my head against the window glass

as a form of protest against creation. i hear the angels shiver, we didn’t beg to be angels. we

want to make mistakes & call it missed steps. we want to be children in someone’s house & wingless

unable to be everywhere. it’s 6.33 am the morning bird is knocking on my window, & my eyes

forsake the gift of darkness, the magic of unknowing. the morning takes me, into a new mouth

full of wrongdoings. again, my father says you are just a boy like you are just mis-born.

Adedayo Agarau is the third-place winner of the Frontier Industry Prize, 2020. His chapbook, Origin of Names, was selected by Chris Abani and Kwame Dawes for New Generation African Poet (African Poetry Book Fund), 2020.  He is the author of The Arrival of Rain chapbook. His works have appeared in Agbowo, Frontier Poetry, Glass, Perhappenned, and elsewhere. Adedayo curated and edited Memento: An Anthology of Contemporary Nigerian Poetry. He is an Editor at IceFloe and Assistant Editor at Animal Heart Press. Adedayo is a member of the Unserious Collective. You can find him on Twitter @adedayo_agarau or

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