Editor's Note

Pamilerin Jacob’s poems got me thinking about endings.

Jacob’s poems engage with endings both at a thematic and at a formal level. Thematically, each of these poems engage with the idea of death, the ultimate ending. ‘Lola’s Elegy’, for example, does so with deftness and in depth. Consider how the poet expresses an inability to shake off grief: How to walk it off—this repeated mourning. Even the line breaks (another kind of ending) are carefully constructed to offer an immersive experience of grief. For example, in But you were already// gone from us, the reader is made to wait for the duration of a stanza break before the full force of loss is unleashed.  The poems, too, end powerfully and emphatically, full of grief and awareness of human mortality.  

I invite you, reader, to join in this heartbreak.

— Aswin Vijayan
The Bombay Literary Magazine

Nocturne for Dusk in Sango-Ota

Bananas hang from trees like elbows
waiting to ripen, dreaming of hands
that will, someday, lower them
into the pink that mouths offer.

The wind is dashing through
the leaves on its way to provide
comfort to children who will remember
this evening for years to come.

Beneath the trees,
three sparrows & their sonatas
beautify my life

& I give an applause of smoke
from my lungs. The neighbors know
I am the culprit blowing poison

into the evening air, ruining the innocence
of a solemn Saturday. Something about the sun
losing light like a torch with a dying battery.

Or the lizard picked up like a coin
from the fence by the hawk.
Everyone craves a quiet death.

Grace Fantasia

Seeing you weep, tear about
the house, reach for the knife, intent
on cutting yourself open like a laboratory
toad, makes me want to pluck every ounce

of laughter, I have ever known, & pour
.     all in your mouth like herbal medicine.
.         No grave deserves you.

& were life to come, a butcher, with its many blades,
seeking your neck, I would submit my Adam’s
apple. Say, here, my rotten voice

box, have it. Unhand my nucleus. Unhand
my sister.
     We inhabit the same blood,
but it is psychosis that binds us,
you & I, living at the heart
of a malediction. I would sit all my days in silence,
granted yours are filled with singing. Grace,
I would rip off my skin to shield yours
from life’s unkind frost.

Ars Poetica

Does the bell groan
.     or sing
with its ringing? We’ll never know.

From a distance,

.                                        a cutlass,
.                             mid-air, aimed
.                           at a neck, resembles
.                            a handshake.

Lola’s Elegy

How to walk it off — this repeated mourning.
Maybe, a 12-step plan. Something, anything
to replace the constancy of nights blighted
with weeping. You left us

in the middle of Sunday Service. Mum’s hands were
in the air, itching for your healing. How she danced
in pursuit of a miracle. All the prophets swore
they’d heard God whisper your name
into amelioration. Mum’s hands were in the air.
My hands were in the air. As though snatching you
from death’s clasp. But you were already

gone from us. Burnt wire in a socket, reduced,
redacted. You should have seen the brokenness
spread across her face like a rash, mid-hallelujah
when the message came in. Phone in one hand,
disappointment in the other.

She passed
this morning

That hallelujah still
.                                 hangs
in the air, knocks
nightly on the window,


to be uttered. I know you
did not mean to die.

But you did.


Image credits:

Crested Goshawk catches a lizard on a tree. © kuritadsheen /Adobe Stock. The inspiration for the selection were these lines from the poem: “Or the lizard picked up like a coin//from the fence by the hawk. //Everyone craves a quiet death.” Life may imitate art, but in the myths of the lizards, their guardian angels probably won’t come with wings.


Pamilerin Jacob (author)

Pamilerin Jacob‘s poems have appeared in Agbowó, Lolwe, 20.35Africa, Palette, The Rumpus & elsewhere. He is the curator of PoetryColumn-NND.

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