Poetry

Holiday Snaps: Poems by Denrele Ogunwa

Flesh

Flesh is
like dough. Knead it.
Let it yield beneath your
fingers. Brand it with your palm. Leave
a scar.
==========

Lust

At the thought of you
I lick my lips, see you scarred
scarlet with love-bites,
red-raw, pockmarked, blistered by
my hot, wanton, wanting eyes
==========

Gluttony

There is no such thing
as too much chocolate cake
you say sticky-mouthed
while I lie back sated, still
demanding another round
==========

Sloth

You don’t notice clothes
carelessly discarded, my
bed unmade, as I
straddle you naked, moist mouth
pressed to your ear, pouring filth
==========

Choose jazz

because life should be
like the melody of a Coltrane solo
rising and falling like the rolling ohs
of a multiple orgasm
like the shrill scream of Miles’ trumpet
echoing the sound of a hundred hearts
bursting with uncontainable joy

like the heart-shredding growl
of Lady Day scraping your throat raw
with the blues
the smooth, suave scat of Ella
dobedooing a whole new swing
to a standard love song

like that one song filtered through the feelings
of a million and one different people
dividing like pure white light through crystal
into infinite harmonies

Choose jazz
because life should be
like a song you’ve heard before
only different
only different
only different
everytime.
==========

Between us

Last orders at the bar
six vodka’s down and we’re deep-talking
you’re giving me your formula for world peace
I’m making a study of you, so I don’t forget

You pose an argument
I counter it
tracing the outline of your face
with invisible fingers

You explain the error in my logic
I concur -grudgingly
noting the way your voice ranges
in tone and depth like a palette of blues

Do you know that
your eyes change colour
with your passions
paling and darkening like mood-stones

As we stand here trading opinions
only our words link hands
a bridge for distance neither you nor I
has tried to cross yet

In some other-world, maybe
our lips have just met
and there’s nothing between us
but intermingled breath

==========

Fag Ends

We’re sucking the last smoky breath
from the fag end of a dying millennium
watching re-runs of bad movies
we can’t afford to be elsewhere
so broke we’re scrabbling for old butts
to make a decent cigarette
blowing bubbles in our cheap wine
to make champagne

We make toasts, promises
you’ll make more money
I’ll finish ‘the book’
These repeated resolutions
have become our mantra
multiple Hail Marys, penance
for another year wantonly wasted

I test 2000 on my tongue
Let it roll out like factory fresh fags
It tastes hopeful, rounded
full of good things coming
perfect as a smoke ring
new and dizzying
as that first nicotine high

and we hang on to those shimmering Os
working them onto our fingers
like wedding bands
pledging our vows
against a backdrop of midnight
revels and wet confetti

In the distance
Big Ben’s donging
the grey sky’s flashing
with impatient fireworks
and as I peer out the window
I can feel time running out
like a cigarette burning down
==========

Paolo (a sea shanty)

He had eyes the colour of black pebbles on the beach
Limpid black and shiny wet as pebbles on the beach

And his smile was white as the bleached insides of seashells
Pearly white as the bleached insides of seashells

And his nose was the proud peak of an Andalucian mountain
Proud and imposing as the rolling Andalucian mountains

And his forehead rose to meet his hairline
Like the blue Costa sea met the blue Costa sky

And his lips were wide with promises of a night not spent alone
Lips wide and plump as blood oranges, full of promises

And his manly arms were open as he welcomed me to stay
And he smelled of warm grapes and sea-salt and welcome

And for one perfect moment, underneath that perfect sun
With that perfect man, I was perfectly in love

Then I sat at Paolo’s bar and ordered my first drink
==========

Holiday snaps

The beach is lined with sunbathers
ears pink as the insides of conch shells

A beach ball slowly bounces by
a sandstorm of excited children run screaming after it

Pebbles at my feet, smooth and round and wet
look up at me like a baby’s shining eyes

A tendril of seaweed trails in the water
like the remains of someone drowned

A small white dog frolics a gentle breeze
ruffles its dirty coat into cresting waves

A red speed boat with white stripes buzzes
skims over the waves like a giant dragonfly

Fishermen cast their nets, muscles rippling
like sunset dappling the dusky water

An ice cream van toots and trundles by
hungry children scuttle towards it like ghost crabs

Soft wet sand nuzzles between my toes
invites me to wash my feet in the sea

==========

(c) Denrele Ogunwa

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