2021 Bermuda Triangle Finalists

Ojo Taiye

Dear Self: Why Not Stay

again, what do i know about staying? what metaphor can i use to describe this bumper sticker narrative hanging from my mouth—how nothing ever changes— not the scenery or the streets ransacked by harmattan like a warning. how easily the ritual of a season becomes us: winter opens & opens— &i’m still trying to figure out if i really want to be alive. forgive me this struggle of hope. for as much as i want to be happy, it is there i lose. i cannot see beyond it. of all my regrets, this is the worst— & when the tides are surging home, my very name becomes a vanishing flower. even now— i name my fears—late affection & the memory of it is a bird itself shuddering. tender is the hard work of doubt— believe me. tired & thirsty, another word for my hands sandwiching little shards in the snow. there is something so precious about the fracture of acacias. so, it’s no wonder i still find myself looking to blue throated robins for solace. it ends how it begins: i didn’t become the man i imagined—i brought what i had learned of birds & forgiveness to my daily life & it failed me. what’s left behind is the realities of a bewildering kinship of language & prayer. maybe i’m a poem unhappy to be born — just what is true & true. every night i wake & fall between the place of childhood & a constellation of god’s period showing us our teeth.


Kate Northrop


                                    (at night)

Then I saw the moon’d jacked open the sky
and burned the outside world: it was all there
surfacing, like an emptied swimming pool

I saw the donut shop on Delaware Ave
looking dropped off in the rain, and the lights
inside blazing: drawn along by horses, awake

When five years opened out of hand: my/my sister
fell into a yard.  Fuck was that? someone said, the snails
in the grass shining wildly, clear to the eye

Now I see when the Frog Prince sees the pink
forehead rising over the lip of the well, it appears
like a gorgeous, green exit sign


Dear M, things still slippery I can report, at the ends of
the earth, warm and indirect