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Pain Is A Place

LONGLISTED – POETRY JOURNAL 2024

My country’s name is Pain.
And I beg you not to confuse it for a pseudonym.
Pain is its birth name – it’s a name it bears
with all the connotations of a being in pain.
I once told an immigration officer that I was from Pain,
and his face spoke a frustration I wish I didn’t know –
it was the look of being toyed with.
And that was how I knew he didn’t know Pain,
and if he did, he only knew the facetious facade
that hides its sunburns and death pangs.
Every time I remember that I am in Pain,
a morbid abscession bubbles in my skull
and pours a caustic rain down the hills of my face.
So when aliens tell me to fix the leak,
I feel mocked by their tactless talk.
From what I’ve learned about pain,
I know it never goes away when you live in it.
And when you can’t run from it,
you make room for it.

Quwam Ishola

Quwam Ishola studied Cell Biology and Genetics at the University of Lagos and currently works as a freelance writer. He is a 2022 Sprinng Fellowship alumnus.

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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