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God’s Big Mouth

God has a big mouth; opens & the earth shakes before he swallows—another day has ended & he hasn’t taken my life—he’s either letting me fatten to his taste or he has a purpose for me; before I sleep, I invite all the angels back into my life; I ask for God’s wings over me, I’m not sure he has any, but I ask anyway—I mean, I don’t know them that well—I don’t even know their surname or what gender they are; are they even called God?—I know God is full of surprises, still I assume I will die in my sleep, so I put everything right before sleep steals me: arrange the table, lay the bed, sweep the floor of the fallen hair, of the used condoms & every evidence of sin; anoint the feet & head & admit transgressions & ask they be forgiven; weep a little, let them be real—God reads hearts. 

I am Achilles or I am Anokye, but the prophecy says I will die in my sleep—so I stay awake until I cannot; it is 12:07 am and the family witches meet so I sleep after their meeting, 3:43 am, or 6:52 am on the days they delay; what I fear is not my death, it is my living—the possibility of becoming something I may never become—If it was possible, I’d die—like Ananse & witness what burial & what celebration I’m given; return from wherever the dead go, on the third day or fortieth because I need the rest that death likely offers, & block those that need blocking & love those who need loving, better. 

When the prophet asked: Are you an Archbishop?—why are so many angels following you?—I giggled because I hired them on my way to the temple like I do every night; I am not sure what they take in return but I will do everything for the prophet not to project my sins; when I saw my friend die in a dream, I prayed & fasted for days so he would live—when bullets rained on my body in a dream, I treated my wounds in the morning & rested. 

My faith is in forms that don’t require truths or lies, that freedom is what I seek—like playing Bethel Music or Hillsong United through the loudspeaker as I listen to J Hus or Kendrick Lamar or M.anifest or Shatta Wale or SZA or Rihanna or Cina Soul or Buju through the headphones at the same time—like God, my father & I do not agree on everything & though we love ourselves, I love the silence that follows each I love you—God has a big mouth & if I should die in my sleep, I wouldn’t want any Ghanaian to know where I am going—I want to move like the silence before we travel overseas.

Henneh Kyereh Kwaku is a poet and health educator from Gonasua in the Bono Region of Ghana. He is the author of Revolution of the Scavengers, selected by Kwame Dawes for the New Generation African Poets chapbook series. His poems have appeared/are forthcoming in the Academy of American Poets’ "A-Poem-A-Day," "Lolwe," "World Literature Today," "Olongo Africa," "Tupelo Quarterly," "Poetry Sango Ota," "Agbowo," "2035Africa," "Poetry Society of America," "Tampered Press," "Air/Light," and elsewhere. He is the founder and co-host of the Church of Poetry and a 2022 resident at the Library of Africa & the African Diaspora (LOATAD). Kwaku is an MFA student at Chapman University, where he is an Assistant to the MFA in Creative Writing program. Find him on Twitter/Instagram via @kwaku_kyereh.

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More from Issue 7: Winter/Spring 2023


“Angel’s Share,” “Mother of Muses,” “Do I Really Have Nothing At All,” “Secondhand God”



Notes on Sleaze

by Daniel Torday