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Two poems

by Gboyega Odubanjo

Gboyega Odubanjo (1996–2023) was born and raised in East London. His pamphlets While I Yet Live and Aunty Uncle Poems were published in 2019 and 2021, and his first full-length collection, Adam, is published by Faber & Faber this summer. In his memory, the Gboyega Odubanjo Foundation supplies funding to low-income black writers.



the large rock the size of what is good it fell from the hills and just
missed the playground it didn’t hurt the children­ so we called it mother
the boy didn’t he was the only one who didn’t instead the boy he called out to his
mother as the rock rolled towards past the playground and took to the water
like on another day a boy might and everyone turned to the boy
who called mother because he said it and because now mother was
in the water everyone said where this mother and nothing happened the rock
floated away no one had a mother but the boy
now in their shock turned to the boy they called mother

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it’s bodies in all
their profit
changing hands
a prayer for a
kidney heart full
of money imported
roses spilling from
pockets no change
for a tenner everything
for sale ballad and
symphony traffic
conductor centre stage
giving it the head
shoulders knees
it’s us rubbernecking
london bridge
is down again
a boy sent off
for a song again
driver at the ten
and two as if we
haven’t already
donned the toga of
a dying god
you drive better
with the spirit in you
without a skeleton
in your backseat
how long can we
stay here in this
unmoving riddle
really it’s until
the AC packs up
or the sacrificial
cows go home
the children are
released from the
forest someone finally
asks do you know
these people are you okay

© The Estate of Gboyega Odubanjo, 2024. Poems taken from Adam by Gboyega Odubanjo, to be first published in the UK by Faber & Faber Ltd. on July 4 2024