soul-jay, our brother died. i saw how pity looked
for a space to fit in his opened mouths that mentioned
our names on his blood-soaked lips.
it was just two weeks after the community’s youths demanded his parents
to warn him of their properties.
at dawn, soul-jay was taken to the river we all bathed in
after the war for many years, after playing soccer.
soul-jay knew that all caught criminals had met their death there.
i imagine he saw himself in the water, his palms on
the face of its coldness - his mouth soaking wet
with laughter as he called
others naked boys to splash their bodies into the water.
that day it was different, it was soul-jay alone
covered in blood. it was soul-jay alone that was pushed
in the river - his body tied up with his shirt.
i saw how his body splashed into the river & sank into its depth
like a stone never to be seen again.
we never found his body. never.
Jeremy T. Karn’s chapbook, Miryam Magdalit, was selected by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani for the New Generation African Poet (African Poetry Book Fund), 2021. His works appeared & forthcoming in the 20.35: Contemporary African Poets Anthology, Hoxie Gorge Review, Ghost Heart Literary Journal, Whale Road, IceFloe Press, Lolwe, FERAL Poetry, Kissing Dynamite, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Olongo Africa, Liminal Transit Review, Auto Focus Lit, Stone Poetry journal, Afro Literary Magazine, Eremite Poetry, and elsewhere. He is the 2020 winner of the ARTmosterrific editor choice award. He tweets @jeremy_karn96