A metaphor for darkness
A people seized the sun, somewhere
in Africa. They sprinkle it into the sea
& there, let it simmer into ordinary sizzles,
coiled with bones of broken men;
burnt men who, at first, refused to be boiled.
The sweat & the green tears of cuffed women,
at dawn, rise & roar into different images
not known to the purple sky above. It becomes
Niger & Nile. So it seems: the sun that left never left.
To be a faith fool
Standing atop Olumo
to watch the mountain of Ibadan
undresses before its worshippers,
I saw also the gods of beauty & ruin
pleading on their knees, cowed
before a smitten sunshine & broken rain,
begging the night to not stop taking each dancer
by the hand into their darkened rooms;
to make them make peace with a blooming modernity
& expose the untruth that has long covered their nakedness.
Shadows of innocence
the body is a raging fire & the sea inside it is never calm.
I spent my entire first life
learning how my body was
only mine to unlove. Because
concupiscence is a stone in the throat.
For the ensuing flood,
a candle escalates its black light
on my melting hand. A hand made
of liquid wax. A body not mine, made
of ash & gel. Was this not
how I embraced disappearance
in my reincarnated life? With
skin enflamed, condemned
to a lifetime of burning?
When touches are not, at all, safe
I scoop a roving orgasm in twos & threes.
&, by that, I can tell the smoky taste of hell.
To gather all the darkness,
there is, in one tiny bowl
of grated blackness, & scream:
open me up like scissors; cut off
any part of fleshiness
not meant to exist unheld
or die apart. Name me, roughly,
like a falling mountain. Be obsessed,
ye fine people, with obsession.
For I am, sadly, slightly uninformed –
a warhorse saddled with the burden
of carrying someone else’s arrogance.
& because my demons were man-made,
I try to become water. To dissolve
into something never so named.
To crave hands with which
to hold back Time; tongue with which to unkiss the sun.
Bola Opaleke is the author of Skeleton of a Ruined Song. An award-winning poet, with poems appearing in a journals like Frontier Poetry, Rattle, CBC Books, The Nottingham Review, The Puritan, Literary Review of Canada, Sierra Nevada Review, The Indianapolis Review, Canadian Literature, and many more. He holds a degree in City Planning and lives in Winnipeg MB.