Palestine in Recent Times & Other Poems

Chinecherem Enujioke

Palestine in Recent Times: Rhetorics at the Confessional

For Mohammad Tamimi, after Zaynab Bobi

A two-year-old Palestinian boy has died four days after being shot in the head by Israeli forces.
Yolanda Knell, BBC Jerusalem.
5 June 2023.

: Mornings here frown upon waking, refusing the sun’s run among red waters.

murmurs in prayer.

: These burial grounds do not renegade the flowers placed at their gates. Another child sent away. 

                                                              raises the bell.

: What need is there to write the names of the dead on stones, as if they could live at all?

stares into heaven.

: Of all the thousand lies, seeping from your tongue into mine, does the cross carve truth into any?

                                                                    signs the cross.

: Once, a man holding his son’s hand raised his rosary before a soldier. The beads cracked the windows to his soul.

heaves a sigh.

: Time stares at the two – the boy, a free pendulum; his father, gravity.
To keep a boy from sprinting in a straight line is to pluck his father’s balls.

glares at me.

: Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. Tell me, where do young boys go before they stop running?

Kinesiology of Cadavers where K.E ≠ ½mv² such that K.E = IR ≤ {–∞}

After Chinedu Gospel

life is a constant for everything
that cannot travel backwards
 – age, rain, rust, even curses.
my physics teacher has mnemonics for everything
 – life, file, fell,
for everywhere you see fulcrum, load, and effort.
reincarnation was the first lie my father told me,
so i do not question his death.
because questions are another way of saying,
praying, please stay.
faith – complex function for x
tending to increase for all lies we choose to believe.
and x can be anything. anything
 – pain, unbelief, pain, again.
so, pi became the first name i gave my father,
when people asked, “Who is your pa?”
everywhere in this sphere is a hollow
that our dead have known
and my father went there with his beads.
to thrive here, you must be rounded.

God in one of my exams is the opposite of action and reaction.
yesterday at the mortuary,
a woman launched herself against her husband’s corpse,
and her husband stared in disbelief at her audacity.
this morning, the paper boy told me while i was taking coffee
that she has become a red-pepper tree in the market square,
leaving eiiis and ahhs wherever people gather.
an onomatopoeia in my poems
is everything that cannot shout,
everything i wish is silent.
because of that, i do not sing in the shower.
a song equals thanksgiving,
and i hate to blackmail God with gratitude.

a dead body is a distant name for an asylum.
a thing to harbour negative peace
when soul and body malice through water.
water is the way. water is the path.
that is why we bury our dead in heavy rains,
so we can pluck them as daffodils the next day.
i hate my body because i have no certainty
about what i write for it.
if i call myself the sun,
it will rain tomorrow.
the last time i assumed a bird,
hunters aimed at my belly.
a phoenix burns to live again.
but i am no phoenix.
i am a thing that her god scares.
so i noun into a negative constant
 – black girl, dead body.
and because i am too brittle to be anything,
i adjective into negative infinity
 – lifeless, deaf,
disrespectful to every law of being. of nature.

Osteosarcoma as a Remedy for Apraxia 

Yesterday, a child who was a year older than me died from osteosarcoma.
The doctors said they could not hear her call.

She appeared in my dreams last night.

Immaculate. & Bland. & Deadpan. 

She writes, but I am too daft to read. 

Because every handwriting is legible,

only if we can read the alphabet.

So, when the doctor came to my room this morning,

and my mother before him
and my brothers and my sisters
bearing solemn faces scarred vertically by tears,
their eyes hollow from the wake beside my bed,
like the terracotta god had gifted them her image,
because they identify with sorrow as if a middle name,
wearing grief as calcium behind every bone in their mouth.

I fail to understand why they’re racing towards me. 

Because where I come from, 

the only time a family is complete,

is at birth or death. 

The hands we offer when a life comes, 

are the same we take when it leaves.

Maybe. Maybe. Maybe that is why, 

when the doctor told me that this cancer would take all my hand,
I did not read it when he gave me his –
in embrace. I did not speak.
My body speaks for me – in silence.
Silence. Another language that I have taught my body,
the way to resonate with the drilling in my bones.
To screech through these drugs – Meticorten, dexamethasone. 

I do not ask the nurses

the names of the drugs they give me, anymore. 

I pull on my tongue and draw my muscles

to tell my mother how tired I am

of being cut and opened and closed.

Cut. Opened. Closed. 

But she mopes through my head. 

Past my brain. 
After the windows.
Into the heavens.
She does not answer.
Maybe. Just maybe.
She, too, has become daft.

Chinecherem Enujioke (she/her), TPC XV, is an emerging poet from Nigeria. She is an undergraduate of Human Anatomy at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. Her works have appeared in poetrycolumnNND, Brittle Paper and IHRAM Publishes. She was shortlisted for the 2023 African Human Rights Spoken Word Contest, SEVHAGE-KSR Hyginus Ekwuazi Poetry Prize 2023, and the 2023 Unserious Collective Fellowship. She is the Research Editor of The Moulder, a print magazine that publishes girl-child related issues in Nigeria. When she is not writing, she is studying bones and microscopic tissues.

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