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  • After Suicide, and: An Elegy for All the Birds of This World, and: If a Grosbeak Doesn't Use Its Beak the Men Would Mistake It for a Vagina, and: Like Every Good Boy I Look Forward to Meeting My (The)Rapist
  • Akpa Arinzechukwu (bio)

After Suicide

When you died mum moved your bed,I took your place.

It was not difficult changing the television channelfrom Keeping Up with the Kardashians to Black-ish.

At night your dog kept barking,we thought it was learning to accept the heat.

We wanted happiness, you wanted flowers.& when the chrysanthemum germinated

you asked if I had ever thought of losing something,I said no, because denial eases the pain.

I once lost my Ping-Pong ball, it was found in your chest.We are always wanting what we can't have.

At the prom, I pretended I was you just to dancewith Jud, the one who never looked at me.

This night I write your name first& I can't . . . all over the paper

Hoping you won't be found in me.The leaves scatter, decomposing. [End Page 141]

An Elegy for All the Birds of This World

Sometimes the birds, with broken wings,Flutter midair, plenty of soot trailing their path.

Sometimes the birds, cold, wait in the rainTo their death.

I know what no one wants to say.I am poignant. I am blood. I am not

A moviegoer but I know what everyone knows:Some movies after the intro & cast list

Open on some desperate pigeonsCornering Broadway Ave. with shits &

Gossips & poking. My mother owned a cage.She never had a bird.

She was used to the old myth of gettingWhatever is admired too much.

There's a bowl of water in the cage,A poplar growing inside.

Everything was beautiful beforeMy dad ran away. Before my brother died.

Before I was born. Before my sisters mothered meTill my teen-age.

I could wear a dungaree & not be ashamed.Sometimes the movies start from when a bird [End Page 142]

Hiccups into a room no one wants, looks around,Cuckoos (hoping to hear itself—what the shit has

Happened to it. & for believing?) but no one responds.That's how we know the man will be killed

In the street, unarmed—how a man in a suitWith a fancy firearm will fall from the sky,

Aims, shoots. The ambulance, late, always,Leaves another ghost wandering the freeway.

My mother, bless her old bones. Doesn't wait for this sceneTo be over: she calls me into her room to check if I still have

A heartbeat, pats my shoulders, says: live, please.Whenever I start praying the sky opens. I think something

Beautiful will happen today for it takes a lot of misfortunesTo stay positive. Grandma tells me my bent hands are because

Other spirit-kids felled me from the womb.Every day a bird keeps flying; no one knows who's aiming

For a shot or why . . . maybe because gorgeousness is the sameAs the grave: only mystery tells you how deep to go to keep a body

Beneath, dead, instead of flying.

If a Grosbeak Doesn't Use Its Beak the Men Would Mistake It for a Vagina

That was how the men came, in different sizes,Different nets, cages & weaponry. [End Page 143]

That was how it started . . . the story,Never-ending, awkward.

When the tanager went missingThe sparrow did nothing.

When the flamingo drownedThe eagle started going closer to the sun.

When the parrot was abductedThe owl chose to hoot only at night.

When the net caught the weaverbirdThe drake chose the water as a home.

That was how we knew whatever held theDove would never let it go.

Whatever in front, unseen, was greater.The raven Choked on its meal.

None of these matters to no one. It's no one's business.Now the trees are gone; water flows right back up, into oblivion.

Like Every Good Boy I Look Forward to Meeting My (The)Rapist

& suddenly yesterday I stopped being twenty.I am tired of being found alive...


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pp. 141-145
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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