We were a conflagration asking

to be incarnated into the world.

Mother, superstitious, kept us

apart, two stones of the same

igneous anger.


Everyone saucered tears

like firetrucks before a plane crash,

as if preparing, should we combust.

Mother had once hidden

all the nooses, knocking

all hanging hooks from our ceiling,

the other family hid the tinder and wood,

crying flame-retardant

for the walls.


Your palm prints have returned

as shingles around my left eye.

There’s extinguishing foam on the runway.

We meet again in our prefabricated peace.

Don’t aim your will at me

if you will not shoot.

Bibliographical info

Tolu Oloruntoba, "Tinderbox" from the Junta of Happenstance. Copyright © 2021 by Tolu Oloruntoba.

Source: the Junta of Happenstance (Palimpsest Press, 2021)


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