Back to Issue Forty

Thriller Night


for James & Charles

Crossing Westheimer, the three
of us, just before it becomes Elgin, we
head towards the yellow house where,
before this, poets had gathered but
now, two cop cars with beaming lights
are parked in the parking lot. We lean
against my car and laugh, as if we
weren’t frogs inches away from a night
adder. Perhaps naive to think it but
we had no reason to believe we were
in danger, or that we were dangerous,
and so we laughed with our whole
bodies, their lights still on us. Steady
as a surgeon’s hands. We would have
left but could not leave; no one could
with the cop cars blocking the gate.
And so we continued, the three of us,
as night became more night. Just like
a boy looking into a mirror might see
his father’s face where his own face
was only minutes prior. Eventually,
they step out of their cars and walk
towards us. Something we cannot hear
is muttered into the walkie talkie…
I’ll keep it short. There was a break-in.
Cops were called. We fit the description.
And so, questions. Existential. What are
you doing here… Where are you coming
from… Where are you going after this…
Best as we could, we answered them. It’s
been years now, and still I have questions
to ask the night that let us leave and live
to tell the tale. It’s simple, really, what
I want: nothing thrilling; a night that is
as mundane as rain. Three Nigerian-
American boys walk back, late night, from
a Valero with snacks and soda. They cross
the street and stand by a Toyota that belongs
to one of them. They laugh like hyenas until
the night grows jealous of the light in their eyes
and whisks them home and oh their bodies—
how light, how light they were. And are & are.



Ayokunle Falomo is Nigerian, American, and the author of AfricanAmerican’t (FlowerSong Press, 2022), two self-published collections and African, American (New Delta Review, 2019; selected by Selah Saterstrom as the winner of New Delta Review’s 8th annual chapbook contest). A recipient of fellowships from Vermont Studio Center and MacDowell, his work has been anthologized and published in print and online: The New York Times, Houston Public Media, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Texas Review, New England Review, Write About Now, among others. He is currently a Zell Postgraduate Fellow at the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program, where he obtained his MFA in Creative Writing—Poetry.

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