Poem of the Week: Tolu Oloruntoba

Tolu Oloruntoba



The Tinderbox


We were a conflagration asking

To be incarnated into the world.

My mother, superstitious,

Kept my father and I apart,

Two stones made of

The same igneous anger.


Everyone else at home, eyes like saucers,

Was crying as if in preparation,

Like firetrucks before a plane crash

In case we combusted.

Like my mother had once hidden

All the nooses we had,

Knocking down all hanging hooks from the ceiling,

They hid the tinder, and the wood,

Making tears into flame retardant

To paper the walls.


Your palmprints 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 the will at me

If you will not shoot.

Tolu Oloruntoba, a Nigerian poet and physician, has published or forthcoming work in Columbia Journal, Obsidian, Bird’s Thumb, American Journal of Poetry, Under a Warm Green Linden, and elsewhere. He lives in the Greater Vancouver Area.

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