Tinderbox is fundraising to support our next ten years. Check out our GoFundMe! Donations will be matched up to our $1,000 goal.

Ashes

After the Olambe petrol truck explosion

I run as hungry flames chase us 

from our homes. As fire breezes 

through a path lined with oil 

& years of labor fall into ashes.

I imagine the President’s shady 

promises about compensation. 

I think of trucks plying broken

roads. Afar, gloomy smoke 

levitates towards heaven. 

I spot some kids  —laughing, 

playing ten-ten, unaware 

of the wails nearby. The fire 

roars in anger. I hate its wails

of loss. I close my eyes but 

my nose, a Judas, breathes in 

smoke. What can poets do but 

weave grief into sad analogies? 

A dog barks away as if to express 

fury. I know fire extinguishers 

show up when it’s too late. I recall 

the Ikeja bomb blast & Dana Air 

crash. I count tasbih of tragedies 

until my fingers falter. I wonder 

what legacy this land will leave. 

What next will it take from us? 

Nothing works here until there is 

some damage. Like a bargain of 

survival, without a written treaty 

that Nigeria won’t still burn you.


Rahma Jimoh  in a turtleneck with her palm on her chin

Rahma O. Jimoh is a winner of the Poetry Translation, Lagos-London competition. She is a participant in the Undertow Writing workshop and has been published or has works forthcoming in Salt Hill Journal, Parentheses Art, Ake Review, Olongo Africa, Lucent Dreaming, Agbowo, Tab Journal & others. She is a lover of sunsets and monuments. She edits poetry at Olumo Review and is a prose reader at Chestnut Review.