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What Came Out as a Poem


The stories that you don’t like are the
ones always wanting to become a poem
I didn’t choose the lines, I don’t mean to say
Mum could no longer go to Waterside Market
to sell her bitter ball and pepper.

But it’s fine to say the truth, to say the mud
stuck between our legs contaminated our creeks.
to say the birds didn’t just fly
because they saw us running
homelessness was not only losing our shelter,
we lost the land like the birds that
lost the trees that house their nests.

But leaving home was a fact that death
is not good for our liking.
I do not wish to speak of how
we shattered our home while leaving
so the rebels could think it was already looted
how we saw a nursing child making elegy
where no Samaritan is good.

What is a country where our bodies are taken as bread?
we gave up on our smiles, on the clothes bought for
Christmas and New Year celebrations,
on praying together inside a quiet home,
on spending the nights on warm beds.

When staying in this country becomes a sin
the moment you touch the border, leaving no trace behind,
you know God has forgiven you to go and sin no more.

Emmanuel Yamba

Emmanuel G G Yamba writes from Monrovia, Liberia. He’s a graduate of the University of Liberia and SprinNG Advancement Fellowship. His work has been featured and forthcoming in The Shallow Tales Review, The MUSE, SprinNG, Inkspired, Funminiyi Anthologies, Libretto Magazine, Salamander Ink, African Writer, Kalahari Review, Odd Mag., Rigorous, TVO Tribe, Ibadan Arts, An anthology for Abunic and elsewhere.

PJ2024 Longlist
1. Blood Ties
2. Born Again
3. Entreaty
4. Good Mothers Stay Home, Good Fathers Pay
5. Pain Is A Place
6. Postpartum Depression in Men
7. Prayers
8. Premonition
9. The Hood
10. What Came Out as a Poem

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