So what makes it a country, apart from tangled history?
– Luc Sante
consider how a thing finds its way
inside the body a bag of nails a boat
anchor an ice pick a javelin a bicycle
pump a drill bit a pipe a knife a sword
fish a bullet another body & if the body
is a country consider what or who
is considered foreign & deemed removable
how else to tell you this some things
we write out the body some things we write
the body out of
It’s True. I Left a ‘Shithole Country’
for another one. How sad, how hard it is, to uproot
one’s life and then, to plant one’s family in a country
that can’t keep them alive. Of course I know no country
can. Listen. I’d love to tell you about the day I left home
except I don’t remember much of it. Not what I wore. Not
what my father wore. Not how I got here. No. I drank from
the river Lethe and found myself awake in a strange land.
But, I do remember this: somewhere between Sky and Earth,
I lost my passport. I got here in November. On a day like
any day a bird leaves its mother’s nest. Few days after,
families would gather across the country to give thanks
for whatever they had to give thanks for. Each year, on
the anniversary of our arrival, I like to thank my father
for bringing me here but some years I can’t remember
the exact date. Was it the 25th or the 27th? Yes, it was
cold. I don’t remember if I had a coat. Years later, we’ll
gather around a small table that can’t fit us all but still
we make room for laughter. Reunion is a cruel name
for how we meet again the hurt that can’t be brought
to heel. The truth? I am a poet because my memory
is shit. What else am I supposed to write about except
what hurled me into poetry the way Ireland hurt Yeats
into it. Somewhere I read that if you look close enough,
a map can be a mirror. And so, I mirrored the topography
of my hurt and all I saw was my own face. Each poem
a bridge to a past that no longer exists. O memory.
You untamable thing. Impossible horse. My mother,
too, is thrilled by you. How you bring back to me,
in the middle of the kitchen of the house my folks now
call home, the things we thought drowned in the ocean
we know Time to be. I remember the white of my father’s
uniform and how my classmates mistook him for a doctor.
I remember how I did not buy a lab coat for science class
but instead wore his uniform. And too, the many experiments
I conducted on bugs whose wings I clipped. I remember, too,
the last meal I had in my country before the then-near-future
readied itself to whisk me away although I don’t remember
what the face of my mother looked like when, or before, I left.
Ayokunle Falomo is Nigerian, American, and the author of AFRICANAMERICAN’T (FlowerSong Press, 2022), two self-published collections and African, American (New Delta Review, 2019; selected by Selah Saterstrom as the winner of New Delta Review’s 8th annual chapbook contest). He is a recipient of fellowships from Vermont Studio Center and MacDowell, and his work has been anthologized and published in print and online in The New York Times, Houston Public Media, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Texas Review, New England Review, and Write About Now, among others. He is currently a Zell Postgraduate Fellow at the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program, where he obtained his MFA in poetry.
Salvador Campos is a self-taught artist. For the past 20 years he has worked with found objects to create assemblages, figures, masks and sculptures. His creative process is completely intuitive, spontaneous and random. Campos aims to stimulate the viewer’s perceptual awareness of the beauty and value in the ordinary and to encourage creative imagination regarding reuse of materials in the hope that they will discard less and recycle more. Each piece contains not only a unique history but potential for aesthetic function. Somehow these disparate pieces fit together to create something altogether new. Sometimes the object(s) itself will tell him what direction to go. It is then his task to find the missing piece.