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Wale Ayinla: “Prelude to Omissions”

2020 Jack Grapes Poetry Prize Finalist

Steamy. Provocative. Devastating. This sensual, highly visual poem drew me into its world of flowers and wolves and knives to the throat. “I am painting my body with vernaculars,” Ayinla writes. Gorgeous. And deadly.

— Alexis Rhone Fancher


Prelude to Omissions


I have risen above noise level.
I am painting my body with vernaculars.

a boy misinterprets flowers for thirst.
a boy vacates his body without prior notice,

to get lost in the wind. with salt in his mouth,
he becomes a marauding wolf.

I am counting my age backwards.
I am tightening a knife to my throat.

the boy calls blood water.
the boy’s body cascades into a dusky sunset.

I am wearing shrapnel on my tongue.
I am calling grief by its maiden name.

the boy looks at the field –behold, there is
fire, and water, and blood, and names

roaming the ground in search of their owners.
the boy becomes a river of broken mirrors.

I sneak into my own body with wings.
I dissolve into a language that has no root.


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