Adesiyan Oluwapelumi

Naming the Dead

the bullet hole in my sister’s head opens like morning/ like light waterfalling into my eyes/ the last time i bled/ my brothers mistook it for water/ & drank till their bellies groaned in satiety/ months later/ we are squatted by the riverside drinking from the blood of our sisters/ the sea reeking of death/ a morbid stench strangulating our noses/ the rosebush breathes/ so i know blood has life/ mid-october/  i cup my sister’s body in my mouth/ because here safety resides in the mouth bridged with walls/ the dead reincarnating in our elegies/ their names like a song/ clanking on our lips/ the dead resonates in the spirit realm/ phasing us/ shaking up the kitchenware in our closets/ they answer when we call them/ wind/ rushing at us/ formless & here/ wind/ sister/ father/ brother/ the muezzin in me singing the names of the dead//

noun: wind
1. the ability to breathe easily /
2. the region of the solar plexus / where a blow may paralyze the diaphragm & cause temporary loss of breath or other injury /
3. living remnants of the dead /

     i/ [    ] thing/ because the wind will not leave me//


A Year of Blood

           after Adedayo Agarau

it’s raining sharp knives & machetes/ the city irrigated by blood/ & bodies harvested as sacrifices in a sacrilege/ the evening moon casts an halo of lesions over the sky’s face/ & beneath a beige/ a company of little children hide under torn cartons/ a man smokes the atmosphere with hemp/ his breath saturated with grief/ a young girl raises her hand to the rain/ cups the water for a drink/ & it becomes blood in her mouth/ tonight in the music of the weather/ we waltz along like monarch butterflies/ our soft wings dispersed into dust/ the stereo crooning a litany of eerie ballads/ we are romantics in a matrimony of living cadavers/ & above our heads are constellations of fireflies/ their flamy wings dampened/ somewhere in a hamlet/ a bevy of quails circle a farmstead/ & in a cottage nearby/ a father barbecues his daughter/ christens her death an art of grace/ humbling his act of devotion/ i beseech/ how do we decide what is allowed to live/ & isn’t/ somewhere in a temple in the city/ a young mother seeks to prey her dead son’s body into the mouth of a figurine/ say there is enough hope to bury us/ & at nights we make incense to the sky/ burying our dead in the sea of the stars/ in the floods of their haemorrhage/ ’til they return as rain/ as testaments of our soft bodies/ in this water cycle of gore/ & gall//


Adesiyan Oluwapelumi, TPC XI, is a medical student, poet, essayist, & Assistant Editor of Fiery Scribe Review from Nigeria. Winner of the Cheshire White Ribbon Day Creative Contest (2022), & 1st runner up in the Fidelis Okoro Prize for Poetry (2023). His works are published in Fantasy Magazine, Poet Lore, Tab Journal, Poetry Wales, Variant Literature, & elsewhere. An Adroit Journal Summer Mentee & a SprinNG Writers’ Fellow, his works were selected for inclusion in the Annual Outstanding Young Writers Anthology (Paper Crane, 2023). He tweets @ademindpoems.