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Casualties of the Coup

Essah Cozett

When I ask my mother

to tell us stories of the war,

her eyes elicit saltwater,

bitterness arrives on her lips.


Thunder rumbles from her tongue

twisting languages and displaced lands.

My mother came as a young refugee,

spent years without returning.


She never got to vote in Monrovia.

She never got to see the land of liberty

rise from the rubble and ruins. Burying

my grandmother reminded her of the night


when the soldiers arrived,

she tied her brother on her back,

her siblings stuck to her hip like a lappa.

The burden still bends her spine.

Essah Cozett is currently a Doctoral Caribbean Literature and Languages student at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras campus. She is a first-generation Liberian-American, born and raised in Georgia. Her poetry explores African influences in the Caribbean, women’s empowerment, identity, and spirituality. You can find more of Essah's work at Cozett’s poems have been published in several print and online publications, including PREE Lit, Moko Magazine, Eclectica Magazine, Tonguas, and Odradek.

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