Titilope Sonuga
Titilope Sonuga


Trigger Warning

by Titilope Sonuga

Across the World black bodies genuflect on sidewalks to a God that is all brimstone and fire

Their chorus a hallelujah of bullets a red sea deep enough for black mothers to swim in

They said he looked like a serial offender there was too much Africa in his skin something about the way he walked screamed rape and pillage the way he pulled that wallet quick out of his pocket it might has well have been a bullet Amadou Diallo Trigger Warning

How dare he roar with laughter so big joy he didn’t even have to pay for teeth a row of defiant white

now his bride is wailing in her wedding dress grief is a bitter liquor that will bring you to your knees 50 shots no chaser

Sean Bell Trigger Warning

To a black woman a safe space might as well be a metaphor when she carries her body like an apology

turned inward from a gaze that is not her lover’s she is accustomed to the rise of the hairs on the back of her neck in response to the scent of danger in the wind even in her wounded hour death could still be waiting on the other side of that door knock knock who’s there?

Renisha Mcbride Trigger Warning

They said he walked they said he ran

that it was frightening the way he did exactly as he was told they said he reached said he didn’t reach said she moved said she didn’t move said she talked back said even a black boy child wasn’t child enough to play in the broad light of an afternoon or sit in a car seat with gums still too soft to speak the words for surrender word’s like:





They said cellphones kill too skittles become daggers wallets become hand grenades

and black women fly are prone to levitating in prisons cells

to slip their necks into nooses they tie with just their teeth all that black girl magic defies physics defies gravity defies police officers who play God it turns to rage in the bones

and black bones liquefy slip out of handcuffs pop locking they dare dance through the trigger’s warning dare to move in bodies that charm a bullet out of its chamber to sit between their eyes

black joy looks too much like God too much like worship too much like praise they said give them a chorus a hallelujah of bullets

flood the streets with a red sea deep enough for their mother’s to drown in
*A contribution to the ‘When Will I Be Free?’ Collection*

About the writer

Titilope Sonuga is a civil engineer turned writer and poet based in Lagos, Nigeria. She renders, both in verse and in performance, a remarkable elegance of craft, a quality of rootedness and an unflinching womanhood. Her collection of poems, Abscess, was published by Geko Publishing (South Africa) in 2013. She was an Open Society Foundation Resident Poet on Goree Island, off the coast of Senegal, in 2015. Her work was shortlisted for the 2015 Africa Center Artist in Residency (AIR) program. Titilope is the first poet to appear at a Nigerian presidential inauguration, performing an inaugural poem, We Are Ready, at the May of 2015 ceremony. She is currently Intel Corporation’s ambassador for its She Will Connect Program across Nigeria.