Still Life as a Colour Blind Songbird
By Wale Ayinla
identity modelled in black satin
amidst a plethora of shadows
I am trying to be faithful to my reflection
yet grief is a theorem for escape yet
I consider every threat to hasten depression
after all no one calls a brown boy
a chimney of pity in the orange sun
from under courage opens a moon
small in the estate of lonely watchdogs
what are you waiting for the warmth
of your groin in the presence of water
bottles unforgiving as night zooms in
in blurry apertures so long as no one is burying
a loved one there is a need for an abundance
of rainfall in the hand with teeth muttering chorus
in heavenly tongues yet you must see language
as a possible disaster and a July dried by weight
etcetera I am not saying christening mystery
is rhetoric I earned the name preacher
from blessing aches with a grey sadness
The Hate Artist
After Wale Owoade
By Wale Ayinla
i. who says my body won’t survive in a pool of an April wind
ii. I keep my knees closer to God in prayer & I don’t call it worship
iii. I cup loneliness as an epigraph to and fro the ululation of emptiness
iv. someday I’ll love where mother’s shadow falls on my body & a day is a hundred dark voices alive
v. when you asked me to fly grief held me in flight to hell
vi. it’s hard to put together what never fought for this space before it all began
vii. I watch the knife lead the kitchen into the rain of onions ‘cause that’s where hope stays
viii. little speeches are a basket of submerging furnace & I wouldn’t listen to the radio without my heart asking where God is
ix. I can feel the hole in the song of the birds at dawn under my feet
x. what leaves us behind holds on to us dearly & my father’s ghost is a painkiller
xi. in this haunted room my voice is thicker than my bones
xii. I gulp absence as a sun fading into the belly of the ocean & no elegy survives in a shackle of hope
Self-Adulation as an Organ of Speech
By Wale Ayinla
Planes fly higher than birds.
Birds flock more in unity than loneliness.
Grief is bilabial. My face is rare
on the skin of the air inside me.
Somebody calls me a cave.
I call myself a living testament—closed
on the inside by a sacrifice. I buy words
for myself. You see, I see colours the way
the earth grinds dust. The way the forecast alters
itself. They say it will rain tomorrow
but I crave water in the sun-burnt noon.
They say thunder will fall from the teeth
of the sky. I welcome it with my ears
tucked in my palms. As voiceless as the night
may be, the stars scream into my pupils.
They keep what is not theirs. A word before
a body sets its bones on fire. My throat yearns
for places to grow this speech. & I am
a sickle carving the wind to myself.
A leaf falls from my body every night.
Wale Ayinla writes from the ancient city of Abeokuta in Nigeria. He teaches Government at Triumph College. He is a Best of the Net Award nominee, and his work appears in Palette Poetry, FLAPPERHOUSE, Kalahari Review, SOBER., and elsewhere. He is @Wale_Ayinla on Twitter.