what prayers can a man whisper when wrapped around with a necklace that would consume his body/ bleach his bones/ & send his soul on voyage? a man finds a space in the archive of another/ wraps around it & calls it light/ then prays--- "God consume me in the flame of this blazing love" & wraps again. there're different colors of flame/ blue/ red/ orange/ catalog in the heart of men who cast fire/ & calls it burnt offering. yesterday/ a man turned back from his fear/ pinned to the ground/ hands blocking swings of woods/rocks/sticks. body sapped of strength/ wrapped with tyres full of flammable liquids/ then set alight till the fire grew wide to consume his fears. Lord! this body is a collection of grief/ burning slowly like incense/ finding its way to heaven like prayers/ like your son on Calvary/ & the ash heaps/ like salts/ like Lot's wife. it's a sin to kill a mockingbird singing its heart out/ but over here/ men play God/ determine sins/ & cast fire on the bodies of un-forgiven victims/ leaving their charred torso hanging like unanswered prayers. Lord! of the many ways you answer prayers / may it not be through blazing flames/ that leaves bleached bones behind/ & enter into the reality of smokes in voyage.
by Ókólí Stephen Nonso
Ókólí Stephen Nonso is a Nigerian writer whose work has previously appeared in various respected literary publications both in Nigeria and internationally. He was a joint winner of the May 2020 Poets in Nigeria (PIN) 10-day poetry challenge, first runner-up in the fresh voice foundation Poetry contest, and a third prize winner of the Akuko magazine inaugural prize for Poetry 2021. He was included in the ‘Who’s Who of Emerging Writers 2021’ by Sweetycat press publication.
You can say hello to him onTwitter @OkoliStephen7