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Poetry by Israel Okonji

Falsettos

for Debra

1969

he brought her to
swim —                   water is
sadomasochistic:
                                   the belly of the river
                                       was impaled
                                 by bodies of a uniform
color —                      not just their bodies.

their bodies came in to it
without chequered minds.
in the river, when she collected
her hairdo, pressing every
thickness to her scalp,
she was left to loose
her finger to the
grip of a circle plated on any
form she chose to appear.

1974

how to flee the delta
on hooves, james
read a paragraph
to her. they were
happy to see a
bonfire corralled by
other free spirits —
there, you have to loosen
up the knots of your —
a tree fell &
snatched away the
presence of fire.
debra, when you run,
loose up whatever knot
that — his voice was
snatched by a tooth
in flames that flew into
his torso, & soon, before
she could run, the lights
in his eyes would have been
faced backwards. she knew
the gun had a song for
the commodification of
her body, too —

1988

at the wake of the boat —
from the river bank,
she vaulted herself
unto the nothingness
of air, gravity made
vortices — but they
were weak signals of
the light body the river
swallowed. for long,
the river wrested
— her breasts: small
fridges, her mouth:
like a frog’s skin.
as bullets were being
chased out of
their lair to
rummage whatever
kept her from
translating all this while,
before closing up to see
the flesh of her eyes,
before chotiner
questions this poem,
she chose to be
translated.

Israel Okonji

Twitter: @Izrltrcz

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