Taofeek Ayeyemi (fondly called Aswagaawy) is a Nigerian lawyer and writer with works appearing or forthcoming in Lucent Dreaming, Ethel-zine, the QuillS, Modern Haiku, Akitsu Quarterly. His contemporary haibun online "et al." won Honorable Mention Prize in the 2020 Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Prize, the 2019 Morioka International Haiku Contest and second prize in the 2016 Christopher Okigbo Poetry Prize.
how fear beats us into bravery
i should have been a pair of ragged claws.
scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
first, we are chicks running into the balcony
at the sight of a paper kite,
at the passage of a dove's shadow;
then, a queue of roaches scatters at our coming.
in the fear of being frozen,
we melt the morning frost
in the heat of our mouth,
in between our rubbing palms.
night is a sea wave roaring us into hides,
yet sweeping waves onto the shore;
and like spoils of war, derelicts fill the
lacuna of their life with the vestige.
that is to say survival lifts us and shapes us
into heroes – we touch our fears and they release
smokes – incense that invite gods into our dwellings:
we propose to gods and they say 'yes.'
objects in the mirror are closer than they appear
and if you want to make the future smile,
call it tomorrow, call it alarm clock
waiting for the next minute.
a boy sees a mango sprout and begins to
dance, he isn't rejoicing over the nodes,
his joy is over the mangoes that will come
on the arrival of rain, it's over the juice.
every morning i clear the compound,
leaf by leaf; i look at the leaves yet to fall
asking them which will fall by tomorrow:
“let me pluck you once and for all.”
minutes ago, i look into the mirror,
dozens of cars rushing up behind;
the caption on the mirror struck me
as if to tell me to speed up, as if
to tell me to run for my life.
i stepped on the brake – by this i told life
i'm not in competition with anybody:
this is how complacency turns our tongues
into faith binding the candles of fate.
in the heart of famine, i sleep on the mat
smiling at the sky. the moon asks
who gave me pounded yam and
promised me a soup fit for kings;
“tomorrow!” said i.
i look into the mirror
for the umpteenth time, i see tombstones.
i reread the caption on the mirror.