Two Poems by Liyou Libsekal

Into the Earth

hands unfurled like asters

blooming bold, they expose
their center

as though to say

give what you will
what you take I will shed onto the earth

I try to keep, keep open
to breathe like avid cells

leaves crisp like endings
should drop with ease from a stem

and I want to be weightless,

girl in the water
girl on earth

girl with dandelion hair, naked as birth

her soles sown readily into the dirt
with all the lost things

falling as we must




Labors of Love and Mortality

Lay here, near where the light falls
and tell stories, I love when
you pretend, you’ve
been extinct and the world
just hasn’t noticed

my cues to ruin, he
won’t have it, his arms
stiff as oars and his knees locked
he’s hemmed in

revolutions eternal enough, I
tell him facts which won’t matter
lists of old species, the
sun in greed, my way to
wave him over.

Lay here, where we can
laugh at ourselves in
vain decay; tell me tales
where God, is

far from the tasteful sky, a
mother in the hungry dirt
waiting on these
selfish bodies




Liyou Libsekal is an Ethiopian poet living in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She grew up traveling and living mainly in East Africa. She won the Brunel University African Poetry Prize in 2014. Her chapbook, Bearing Heavy Things is part of the 2015 African Poetry Book Fund’s New Generation African Poets series. Her work has appeared in Missing Slate Magazine, Badilisha Poetry, Elsewhere Lit’s African Poetry edition and she has curated an African Poetry e-chapbook for Cordite Poetry Review.

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