Adedayo Agarau

fine boy writes a poem about anxiety

i ask my girlfriend to pray for me & she pulls my name in a two minutes voice note
throws me towards heaven & receives me with gratitude

i miss everything i worship:
                          a.      my God
                          b.      my woman
                          c.      my mother & grandmother
                          d.     the music flaming from rooms we bless with the heat of our bodies

the way i desire her body is the way anxiety desires me
               i am wanted by all the things that haunt me in my dream

my grandmother, my grandmother
pulling me out of air


                                 on a sidewalk on 7th street
                                 a dead cat is someone’s pet

in ibadan, a dead cat
is someone’s grandmother


                    as a fine boy ko ye ko ni anxiety nau
                    o ni everything to fe, o ye ko ma dupe ni

i thank my God who puts sunlight on my table
who wakes me in the morning & offers me to trembling

who sits outside the apartment near River Landing
smoking a stick of cigarette with menthol switch

who asks me how Nigeria is
who, when i say dáadáa ni,

does not ask what i mean

there is little i can tell you, the anger is towards the door that never opens inside me; i make
eba in the morning & vomit everything later & when my mother calls, she asks why i’m thinner
than h/air

        1.    where will all fear go when god takes over the city?
        2.   whose gratitude will drive the lambs into the swine?
        3.   what am i without the dream where i am gasping for air?
        4.   what name do we give the fire that eats my fingers?
        5.   my mother beads a basket & fills it with water,
        6.   who does she mock if not her son that cannot hold water?

they laugh at me
when i run in 
the blues of

they laugh at me
when i run in
the grey of

i hear their shadows
& dream of their socks

a lizard crawls towards a car
& the driver halts.

i’ve witnessed a car run into a pack
of boys walking tiredly from 

your god is everything 
that lets you come inside.
mother, lover.

this trembling is
not without a destination.
i dance towards fire—

fuck memory.
fuck everything.


Adedayo is studying for MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop’23. His manuscript, The Morning The Birds Died, was a finalist in the 2021 Sillerman Prize. His chapbook, Origin of Names, was selected for New Generation African Poet (African Poetry Book Fund), 2020, while Vegetarian Alcoholic Press published his chapbook, The Arrival of Rain in January, 2020. His poems are published or forthcoming in World Literature Today, Frontier, Iowa Review, Boulevard, and elsewhere. Adedayo is the Editor-in-Chief at Agbowó: An African magazine of literature and art. He is the editor of New International Voices Series at Icefloe-Press. Adedayo edited Memento: An Anthology of Contemporary Nigerian Poetry.