Two Poems – Olumide Manuel

Reading Time: 2 minutes


there are no rules except those against protests.

the silence came for us before the bullets.

every wound devours itself.  dark green

molds in the lips culturing a system of crows

& bloodstream. I am crying crystal with the dreams

of my father’s children that remained ghosts.

i sew the salt into this. the scene of the bone white 

ribs flashing in my head. you don’t hold blood,

do you? a bloodied eagle perched atop

the tollgate of ribs. in its beak, its flesh.

& behind it a sky of crows. a battle rifle

aiming at us. our tongues held nothing

but an anthem of anguish. more like chewing 

broken bottles. more like begging to live.

there’s a signpost that reads: do not look back

else you will have nothing but the testimony

of pillars of salt. but are they not my father’s 

children? where is the line between the scared,

the lost & the dead? will my hope not carry

them all along in my heart? i rinse salt

with salt. i remember the night & cry.

Glass Wor[l]d

endless echo of prime afternoon. this heat,

byworks. I’m still falling through to discover

if one of these bottoms is rock enough

to hold me. I steam frustration into pasta

because I’ve realized how the dynamics 

of this world center on what and who

is food.  I listen to the cracks of the roofs,

wondering the what-ifs

of being a rooftop. well, I won’t know

and that’s the bliss. now, I can’t stop.

Imagine it: the chorus of melanin under a skin,

the buzz of a quiet noontime and that the whiteness 

is somehow contained in a fishbowl. sometimes 

I pretend to be Yemi, and the goldfish

that professed her love across the boundaries

of shores & waters. but what is between me

is air quiet enough to steady a candlelight

and I know how flickering this life can be.


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