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Children of the Netherworld: Poems by Denrele Ogunwa

Children of the Netherworld

From a dark netherworld
where a black sun rises
where the moon is forever eclipsed
from an airless void
where a dingy, cloying breeze
enshrouds rather than blows by
and cold still air
touches one’s spine
with chilly fingers

through unlit corridors
winding into infinity
filled with the rank odour
of decaying souls
the putrescence
of sanity long dead

Children are born
sages in pink tender skin
babies older than life
wailing darksongs
screaming for their first taste of blood

A latent violent force
waiting patiently
like a lion stalking prey
waiting for a little more strength
a little more mobility and
a gun.


Time Bomb


Every five minutes or so
I glance at the clock


Every five minutes or so
hell waits to receive another soul




I’ll stir up the waters
of my soul

I’ll dip my hand
into the bubbling waves
and stir
then I’ll pull out the plug
and watch it drain away

Away to darker, deeper depths
where nothing matters
except – perhaps –
discovering light
or further darkness

In the eye of the whirlpool
what would I find but
flotsam, jetsam
and other rubbish like myself
pulled down together
by gravity’s force

rubbish in a rainswept gutter
following the flow
of a water demon
down to murky, watery darkness

I am not lost
I belong here.



Here I stand
misty eyed
amidst swirling water-cloud

I ache where I was fed
I ache more
where I was wounded

My head swirls
with the water-cloud
I ache…



Let the mind’s tide
blow it’s debris ashore…

I search
for a glimmer of light
an exit
from this tunnel of darkness

As the rain-clouds
glide smoothly open
to reveal radiant sunshine…

The traveller
walks forlornly
through the dense, dark jungle
searching for light

Let the smog lift
and the cobwebs blow
from long forgotten corridors
borne away
on the teasing breath
of the airy breezes of discovery…

I shall pull down the barrier
stone by painstaking stone
to get to the other side of darkness
to find light

Let the light shine and cleanse
illuminating discovery
finding the self…

I shall cut down this jungle
prune every branch, fell every tree
until the light shines through

It is time…



I am in my last phase
of confusion
before complete madness
the red blaze
that heralds the setting sun

My mind’s eye sees red
the sixth sense
buzzes a warning signal

I face the sword
that knights and beheads
my fate to choose

This time I grab tight
clutching my heart
like a talisman
counting the beads of past tears
like a rosary

I begin to pray…


She’s leaving

Parting is like:
Heavy stones
cast on a lake of memories
light feathers and clouds
slave to life’s breezes
and rain

here tethered by the familiar
I scan new horizons
the cord loosens

wherever I am
I nurse my alien heart
and like the snail
make myself


Songs of desire

I love to hear you
sing your songs
when your loins are heavy
and your heart is light
and we lie entwined
hiding shared secrets

We sing duets
my Bard and I
far into the night
composing love songs
of a primitive kind
winding insidiously
with our movement
until movement and song
become one

You watch
as I drown in the song
dancing frenzied death-dance

Will you join this dance
Sing the final note?
Please do!


(c) Denrele Ogunwa

Denrele Ogunwa
Denrele Ogunwa
Denrele Ogunwa is a journalist and poet currently residing in England. Her poetry, articles and columns have appeared in newspapers and magazines in Nigeria and England. An aesthete and lover of jazz music, Denrele's muses are passion, darkness and light, not necessarily in that order. Her poems re-echo the theme of escape from night into dawn, a consistent search for doorways that lead out and away from the present into some other place full of promises and new beginnings. She is featured in the German translation of Nigerian poetry selected by Uche Nduka, Junge Nigerianische Lyrik. She has a degree in Political Science.


  1. Just browsing, and noticed your poems, Denrele. Doubt if you remember me. Long ago. Ibadan. Lagos. Good to know you are still singing.


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