there is a way bodies fall into pockets
like forest leaves breaking the silence
of the ground when they wear the parachutes
of gravity. those bodies hung their skin
on the sun rays & watched as their shadows
bring them back at sunset as the blushes
become glue that hold them from falling
away in gruesome nights.
now I ask, who am I?! who am I?! in this
city filled with fresh gods holding my feet
in obeisance to their worship. I see them in places.
like my body. my lover’s eyes. the remnants of
my broken heart. & the walls of my room. I see them
calling my name as the letters caress their
tongues with embers that bear the icy fiery rivers
of my words. I hear as they gurgle it in their
throat as they dance to the heat burning them
with healing balms. I still ask, who am I?! who am I?!
in this page of the wind where quills have pierced &
bled ink like spears falling into songs of war
when they wear the jackets of trajectories. I see them.
those spears. piercing my heart again & again like
particles of déjà vu finding rest in the eyes of men.
I see them, calling my name. those spears. yes! I see them
breaking my body into a war zone where my cells are
clanging swords & cudgels, shields & axes. welding them
at one another with the letters. P-o-e-t-r-y. belching into the
streets of my ears. & I hear their tired voices holding their
souls in welcoming embrace, for they died & rose & died & rose
till immortality broke the feathers of carrion.
& now I call my name this time, like an àbíkú* making the last
call to the gods to save him from slackening his mother’s womb
again & again. I call my name, like children of Bornu picking the
bullets off their father’s body into a rifle of tears. like
starved boys of Somalia packing their bones into a sack & waiting to
trade them with carrion birds for a bowl of beautiful death. I call
my name with my ears upon the chest of the wind, as I put my
hands in my pockets to save the bodies that fell into it.
& I say:
“Aire! I saw your seeds splashing on to dry grounds
& sprouting into ancient trees with trunks
as strong as the girt of an elephant”
“Aire! I stand on the hills of thy name, looking down.
& all I saw were bodies bowing in obeisance to thy victories.
“Aire! hear the sound of the wind, for the howls are
filled with water falling on the back of a calabash & squirting
into cities to wash the tears of children seeking for home
in their bodies”
& “Aire! you ate embers. now, breathe fire”
& these were my chants when I held the pamphlet
of my dreams & in search of my body under my duvet.
& I say, I am a word… phoenix; watch as I escape this fire!
*abiku – in the Yoruba folklore, a child that died at birth
FORTIS PUERORUM (BRAVE BOYS)
sons of the sun are we,
who can defy us? we walked
down this path with a thousand
footprints & washed our
hands in a bowl of light. we are boys
with shadows running ashore
the sea in search of dreams –
moist dreams – for the dust in
our bodies have caught the
gyre of harmattan & our lips
have their scars tearing our flesh like
burning coals. sometimes we
watch how our shadows climb
the walls of our poems, for the letters
are the number of ways we differentiate
& integrate to the value of x.
sometimes too, the variables of our
algebra are hiding in conclave of a damsel’s
arms. we’ve been wet with
the rain of solitude as the
clusters of bird songs trapped
us in the nests of our
mother’s womb. but watch
us as we rise. we are immortals!
Poems © Joshua Omotayo Aire
Image: Pixabay.com remixed