Three Poems

Search Sweet Country

After Kojo Laing 

We sleep in body vases.

Animal beings in paper palaces

Jamestown, Cantonment, Labone…

Stars are stuffed animals;

The sun brandishes its old teeth.

O lost country, dog country,

Rivers like mud in a kiln.

Cathedral of charcoal.

Plateaus like puse poses.

Our hugs emptied into the Atlantic. 

All your vanity ends 

in a barely bird

arriving from smoke

and I, It lashes.

And the baby bird, ours,

lays like a body bag

in distance.

The city weeds around it,

With its brass borders of lamplight.

And we weep a riot round it.

Its flagged shadow recedes into trees

like two adult crickets fucking.

The insects explode

like starships

in our automaton atmosphere.

The baby bird, barely bird, dies.

We fold the country into him

And then out of him,

Till he is a moonlit bite-mark.

We flail our teeth with sex,

the kind that kills

no stuffed animals.

However fucked,

However empty in its baby

court, the country is a child

feeding its stuffed animals

lipstick-drawn tits

on a map.


A white craft drifts downriver between your head

— Lesle Lewis

A white craft drifts wayward between your head

And spume chalks the shore/sea/country,

Makes it a bright grey door/raft,

Tells yaanom where a country used to stand/hunt.

The white craft/calk shifts

before the medical examiner can look at the body/sea/country.

The coroner crowns himself dry land/sea/country

in the water/hunt he dreams.

He ripens our fists with arks/Ivy.

We ripen his eyes with the sun/sand/country

he came as. He gave us the sea/ship/body he had ruined,

It took 4 centuries/countries/seas to get there from Space.

Underneath the new shoreline/white face a woman bathes,

Her name: Virginia, stately/saintly,  knife shaped;

Sharp on both sides,

Didn’t matter where we landed.

I share my last name with an ancient river

    I was born pith pale and peeled

from artillery of purple dirt and midnight 

    I was torn from it

from the horn inside

   these circuses 

full of improvised trees.

    I was stitched into sandmen bulges,

in Antoa princess’ clinched eyelids, and river-dusted.

    I was gone before the wolves

became the only edible part of the sun.

    Before weevils discovered the earth was only a speck

of shade. A wetness

as my new name winkles out through me

    as though it were an ancient river. 


*Photo by Yoel Winkler on Unsplash

Sarpong Osei Asamoah

Sarpong Osei Asamoah is the author of the forthcoming chapbook “YAANOM” selected by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani for the African Poetry Book Fund’s New Generation African Poets chapbook box set. He was a finalist for the Bernardine Evaristo Prize for African Poetry 2023, and is an alumni of Obsidian Foundation. He has read poems for the National Poetry Library – Southbank Centre UK. His work has featured in Aké Review, Lolwe, Tampered Press Magazine, SAND Journal, Poetry Ireland Review, Protean Magazine, Agbowo, and elsewhere including several anthologies as a contributor or poetry editor. He has worked at the Library Of Africa and The African Diaspora, Tampered Press, was a delegate at the NYU Africa Symposium in 2023 and is the creative director and host of CanonPodcast, a podcast about Ghanaian poetry canon and poetics. He is a founding member of and poetry editor at the Contemporary Ghanaian Writers Series.