D.M. Aderibigbe

After Dante, after Robert Pinsky

Soon, the sun slipped into a grey quilt
above and the street began to vaporize:
skidding cars, passers-by, even the silt

beneath our bums fell asleep. We’d rise
and talk and talk and walk from road to road.  
The night folding itself into our eyes.

We'd talk and walk. A church loomed: my friend, bold 
like a child around their parent, led me
in. On the floor, we fed our dreams to cold 

sweeping across the church. It was sunny
when we opened our eyes to a woman
in a white robe. Dangling in her left hand, key

to the car she drove us with to a can-
teen, where wraps of Eba and Ewedu soup,
seeds of joy dropping in our stomach. A can

of Coca-Cola in my left hand, I stooped
in respect with my right. My friend did
the same. The woman smiled, then she drooped, 

as a mark of respect. Goodbye, we would bid.
She, agape, how hope-filled were these hopeless kids.


For Oriyomi

He is the first to step out of the classroom
during break, and the last to step
back and take a seat in this silence
when the break is over.
His eyelids pumped with suspense. 

I walk between gazes                                                             across the classroom,
while the social studies teacher
​speaks to the blackboard.
I beg him to open up the door

to his worries, and the suspense
in his eyes turns to water. Words
will follow: a je iya kidigan
lakoko yi
, He begins, then stops.
For hours, tears
                  are the only language
he understands. 
Mo fe gbo nkan to nii so. I beg                                                     again. Again, he 
begins. It began
with the country's voice crushing

his father's only achievement—
the achievement they had lived 
in since he was born. Now without
a bed, without walls, without a roof,
the bridge's foot was their new ceilings
and the bridge's pillars their new pillows,
for years. For years 
until the day his mother slept
and couldn't return from the night.
They cried: He, his father 

and siblings. The sounds
of their sorrow reached 
the country's ears. The country
came to our rescue, but it was

too late, oree mi. He says.
It's an event that has become
a rock in his memory,
and here is its 5th anniversary.

Damilola Aderibigbe

“As a kid, there were times my dad came home briefly and would start hitting my mum. My defenseless mother wouldn't know what to do but to run with my sisters and me, and on several occasions we ended up on the street.”

D.M. Aderibigbe was born to an 18 year old high school dropout in Lagos, Nigeria. His chapbook, In Praise of Our Absent Father is an APBF New Generation African Poets Chapbook Series selection. He is currently an MFA candidate in creative writing at Boston University. His poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Colorado Review, Prairie Schooner, RATTLE and elsewhere. and has been featured on Verse Daily. Spillway recently nominated his poem for a 2017 Puschcart prize.