We Die | a poem by Odeyemi John

(For the woman accused of contempt)

Photo Source: ThriftyFun.com

We die
not when the ailing breath
scaling the loose prisons of our noses
defiantly refuses the yells of weary lips
– the persistent patter of jaded palms
– and the wails of friendly foes

We die
when we cease to live
in the porous caskets of our choices
we die
in the impulses of arrogant cassocks
– as weaklings
bearing padded shoulders
perforated hearts and cremated ribs

We die
and are long forgotten
in the cesspit of unforgiveness
when we fail to cage the putrid past
to cure the wounded present
we die
when the little things that matter
become burdensome crucifixes
weighing tons down the hollow holes of our necks

We die
when we scorch our soured souls
and flameless conscience
with sharp cutter of chronic hatred
on the broad sweltering lane of cheer malice

We die
not when the rambling knell
signals the exodus of a fictional genesis
we die
when our impeded livers
convict us of contemptuous brawl
when every kiss is a sponge of vinegar from Delila
we die
before we die
and the pale hands of time
are rather drooped to record our deaths

We die
before our soiled flesh
bow to the lordship of the ravenous earth
when our spineless nerves
tell the telltales of veiled scorns
and the feigned laughter of perfected vengeance
we die
when our scaled eyes
only water the graves of our perceived rivals
when our gutless fingers only scribble epitaphs
when we pay a debt with theft
a mild injury with an open sore
a prophesy with mean revelation

We die
when our deeds spite us as criminalized judges
heaping severe sentences
swearing oaths passed with loathing quotes
healing rending pains
with bent syringes of misery

We die
shrouded in scarlet robes
with muted procession of frozen tears
we die many deaths
– and there is no resurrection
for our kinds of death


Odeyemi John is Poet, Writer, Columnist and Teacher of the word of God. His works have featured in different online and print magazines. He won the Jury Press Short Story Competition Prize in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria and was also selected as one of the best six in the NYSC/BSN National Essay Competition in 2015.


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