BURN: My Poetry To Short Story Challenge

Remember  Temilade Agboola whose untitled poetry was featured on the blog a few weeks ago? she is back again with another poem. She shared this poem with me, so I challenged myself to write a short backstory to capture such an evocative piece of poetry. It took a while but I have something that I think captures what I intend to do. I hope you like both the poem and the story.

Burn – Lade Agboola (@cust3rd)

It came,

From a spark;

It came

And I watched how my love for you turned to a flame

And the flame warmed the embers of my cold soul

As I loved you more and more

You consumed

My heart, my life

My world burned at your love

But that’s what love does


You burnt my world down

Razed it to the ground

And I’m left

To start over

With nothing but ashes of an old flame

And me playing the blame game

Burn- Bayo Adegbite (@beebayuu)

The tears are flowing freely as I pen these words, but only inside. My eyes are dry and clear as I wait for the big day. There is terribly little to do when you are on death row. One of the wardens here has been very nice to me. Maybe it is because of the fact that I keep to myself most of the time and the fact that I am not violent. We do not talk much but she tries to help me while she can, at least as far as she can for a woman sentenced to die. When I asked her for a piece of paper and a pen, she readily provided. Maybe she thinks I am a writer or something. I don’t know if it isn’t against prison regulations to give death row inmates potential murder or suicide weapons, but she didn’t say and I didn’t ask either.

The words flow on the paper, but the tears still won’t come. I am sad because I am afraid of death, but I cannot cry because I do not regret killing you, you deserved to die. I deserve to die too. If we do meet on the other side, if the other side exists, I will listen to the explanation you were planning to give me before I stabbed you in the neck with the broken shard of the Hennessey you had been drinking. Maybe then I will tell you why you deserved to die.

I don’t know if I still do now, or maybe I am unwilling to admit it to myself, but I loved you. You were not my first love of course, but you were my first true one.  You made my spirit soar and fly among the stars. With you, I walked to the music of heaven all day. Every time I was in your arms, my heart silently gave thanks to whatever deity was up there for bringing us together. Our love was made in heaven.  If there was indeed another side you would remember the first night we made love, how we had both been drinking and something led to something else. That night, the experience felt like your soul had taken mine and flown to heaven and we were just a couple of angels, lying there lazy and naked in a bed of  clouds  and just giggling and  whispering sweet nothings to each other

It was the damn blood test that changed everything, you see. It wasn’t even intentional; it was just a random act of altruism. I had donated blood for one of these damn blood drives that they do.  I just wanted to be was a decent human being, so I was extremely surprised when the doctor from the general hospital who was supervising the blood drive thing called me for a chat with and the first question she asked me if I was sexually active. Of course, it felt preposterous, I wasn’t pregnant, I was sure of that. At any rate who determines pregnancy through a blood test? I was even more shocked when after much beating about the bush; the doctor finally came out and told me that I am HIV positive. In fact shocked was an understatement, it was the day I began to die. After going to two more hospitals and confirming that it was indeed HIV, I knew the end had come. I had any doubt that it was you. You gave me my life back, so it was fitting that you would give me death too.

I know the whole, people living with HIV/AIDS can still live a healthy and productive Bla Bla Bla… but you had betrayed me. That was the day I died.  So that day when I came to your house, it was not because of me, for I was already dead, it was to warn you. When I saw you ploughing her and working her body as you used to do for me, I didn’t feel betrayed by your cheating, dead people feel nothing. Your pleadings to “explain everything” fell on deaf ears because you were pleading with a dead woman. As the broken bottle went into your stomach and then into your neck, I kept telling myself that it was not for me and not for you, for you were already dead. I did it for that other girl, for the women of the world who were going to die like us, because of you. Don’t worry I have kept your secret. I have continued to maintain your image of a lover boy who was stabbed by his crazy, murderous girlfriend. Dead people tell no stories you see?

How is it possible to be dead yet to be afraid of death? I doubt if anybody can answer this, yet I am afraid to die. If the other side or reincarnation is as real as they say, maybe I can start again and not have to make a terrible choice like you. I have nobody else to blame though because I enjoyed it while it was good. At least I owe you that

The tears still won’t flow, but why should they? Dead people don’t cry, after all. The friendly warden is at the door of my cell now. I don’t know if she just wants to talk, or to collect the pen and paper back, or to announce that the big hour has come.


I loved this challenge and I would love to challenge myself to write prose backstories for poetry, so watch out for more backstory challenges from this space


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