“The Book of Revelation with a Rare Audio Recording of Abel’s Monologue” by O-Jeremiah Agbaakin

O-Jeremiah Agbaakin


before, after & for the Christchurch mosque attack

last night, i was an omniscient again.
the evening sky was orange like crushed carrot.

i didn’t die though my body fell off
a bridge, limping away like a serpent bruised

by the son’s gunpowder. in the dream
i carried all my dead inside the wide casket

of my wail and to leave the city now
is to find a crack in the world: which is why

i’m stuck in this poem. my bladder fills
with blood. my heart stopped ticking like a clock

marking the end of time. & i ran & ran
as guns whistled their venom in the open harmattan.

my country was burning. all the men
were singeing into a pile of raven without wings

their birdsong fossilized into lukewarm char.
in my vision, a danfo omnibus was heading out of

the world; the bus stop filled with one-legged
tarry, one-legged panic. i was no more a child

picking bullet casings like cracked peanuts for fun
like i once gathered bleeding machetes from a world

war that started on our porch, circa forever.
but i am trying to gather what is more forbidden:

an apple before it falls on eve’s hand, a bullet
still in motion, a hand grenade before it unfolds its

fist into smoke, a tongue after it says brother—
meat flesh is more pleasing than cabbage flesh because

of blood. you cannot blame me. in the dream,
a gunman my age shoots his voice & there a small

war gathers in his throat. but fear can
no longer hold power when it’s come to pass.

i cede myself to the belly of a whale to find
water to drown this dream of fire. i cede myself without

feeling naked like this sky with no star spot;
like God stripped of his parts he wanted unrevealed before

the fruit was plucked from the field of vision.
then i stirred and jumped out of the dream back into my eyes

and unsaddled my bladder but there was no
blood and i wrote this down and i quaked as i pulled out

my cell to seek out the dead from the night.
tonight dreamland is the unsafest country to stay.

from Poets Respond
March 17, 2019


O-Jeremiah Agbaakin: “In the wake of reactions to the mindless violence that broke out in the relatively peaceful New Zealand, I am forced to revisit the first bloodshed ever recorded in the Bible. That is not the interesting part. This poem was a written account of a nightmare I had before this tragedy so it in a way foretold one more evil in a long line of evils, and that is what makes the world scary. Our unfortunate ability to forget trauma, until the next, and so on. But out of all the reactions the one that tore me apart was a tweet by @Rafiq ibn Jubair that reads ‘the first victim of the terrorist attack in #Christchurch, New Zealand is seen standing by the door of the masjid. He is heard saying ‘Hello brother’ to the gunman before he is brutally gunned down. His last world to his killer was ‘brother.’’ I imagine that kind of ‘dialogue’ between Cain and Abel before the murder took place. I try in my own way to make sure this poem haunts us forever just like brothers murdering brothers will haunt us more than a hackneyed headline reporting of a gun shooting.” (web)

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