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Aubade with Purgatory | JK Anowe

Aubade with Purgatory | JK Anowe

Bless me father [if you’d not blind me] for I’ve seen—          seen a woman
             Drag her son from womb to water        to save him from the fire          seen him thrash in
                              Search of flight          like a book midfall from a ledge…          it’s been years

              Since we reduced our knees to prayers             or howled our names into
The waste of confessionals      hoping they send them back          our way


              Maybe the city burns because      god only swoops in      when we are reduced
To complete nudity                  as a man    or anything      that started out     coy as a boy
              I do not know love other than the need      to be powerless & be punished for it

I do not know home other than what I’ve been trying to be lately—run towards her open mouth
                A lonely house below a stonehill                 but fall steadfast into forgetting before reaching

                                She said I could be anything if I put my mind to it                   from stoic              to
                Tantrum        & the smokescreen between                     but I chose the audacity to burn
& breathe             to be & not to be               in a city turning to dust               shaken off tired feet

               I pulled my first set       of teeth            falling mouthfirst to the floor―a kiss to the
Devil’s scalp                      my sister        between my mother’s knees                  had tripped me
               Grunting afterwards the same sigh our grandfather allowed when he stroked
His final row       on a broken boat          towards god

                              So I pull into a field of burning dreams          cut the breathing & alight from
              My body loving―like sobriety―is wayfaring     no purer penury
Than watching a raindrop push itself       towards the heat of thirsting tongue

                               & though the city burns spent as the outcry of the only forsaken son
              & the gods oblige us to fight     their futile wars          they let us choose
Our own weapons                       our own roads to run…


JK Anowe Agbowo Art African Literary Art

JK Anowe

JK Anowe, Igbo-born poet and essayist, is author of the chapbooks The Ikemefuna Tributaries: a parable for paranoia (Praxis Magazine Online, 2016) and SKY RAINING FISTS (Madhouse Press, 2019). He’s a recipient of the inaugural Brittle Paper Award for Poetry in 2017 and a finalist for the 2019 Gerard KraakAward. His poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from Palette Poetry, Brittle Paper, Elsewhere Lit, Expound, Enkare Review, Gnarled Oak, Poetry Life & Times, Praxis, and elsewhere. He is Editor: Poetry Chapbooks, at Praxis Magazine Online. He lives, teaches, and writes from somewhere in Nigeria. Twitter: @JkAnowe IG: @jk.anowe

This entry appeared in The Limits Issue


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