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Thursday, 4 January 2018

The Virgin | by Oyin Oludipe

Branch of limbs in dust entombed;
Bust of the fossil pure,
Grains from a month's tillage loomed
In garb, a silk
Of skin, of milk
And scents that rose azure
A furtive itch raids the rind,
Next month will tremors spring
As bristles dense, sack the mind:
For who could think
Two clefts of pink
Would make the kennel sing?
The trench denied the wayward seed
A lesson for the pods
And wilting shells gave planters creed
On pores of woe
And hoes of throe
And coffins on the floods

Painting by Jet Martinez

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Apparitions of Sound | by Oyin Oludipe

Deep within the coastal bounds, enshrined in silvered ranges and fragments, one feels the emergence of a slow, disembowelled song. Like prodigal currents from a corner of encased fevers; stale, swollen passions; it rises to the senses' occasion; its progression, pubescent, yet riotous. Of all the facets of aloneness I have relished, none is just as sublime. As the mind recoils, communal pulses grow weak; the steel vanes subside; and then - tunes. One supposes that they emanate, although inaudibly, as an inner, mental placation for a torturous severance from the universe. In another manner, it does seem as though missiles of ghostly decibels are set loose from the skies - a tonal invasion from which no regimentation, resolution, or recession can retreat. Perhaps, the climax of the solitude, to whom one's spirit appends a destination, breaches the veil of nothingness. Perhaps, in certain silences, one approaches the very kernel of melodic transcripts. Maybe all of this is nothing but a soft, edifying intrusion. The summative emotion is peace; clarity; a sense of the flesh as an agile, absorbent haven of energy.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Ko Ko Ko Kongí ò! | by Oyin Oludipe

for Wole Soyinka, poet, dramatist, barman

You must set forth at dawn—but
Kongí, must you? That wilderness
Of mist, of stamens fissured in
Lacquered dregs embrace you
As woodsmoke. How vile is the warp
When it is done—strange camaraderie of
Shadows, and weed-fingers drawn from
Vow to grain, to stalwart furrows
On your teeth, a veil of execration
Around your mane. Name? Ah no!
Syllables lurk beneath the anvil of gods.
Sage cadences of that sort break
The squalid tongue—but Kongí, must you yours?

For your tongue is gold
Kongi, your tongue is gold,
Whose crescent glow round the realm,
Salt to withered stars, turning rafters
Lodged in the armpit of a bygone rot.
Your tongue is light, cosmic dare,
A roar of drums upon whose echo
Our multitudes drift, decades lacerate
As weary foretaste to the death we bear
To bugle wonders for a “third world thud”!

Ko ko ko, Kongí ò! The door is stiff
As my shock, which perhaps is yours also.
Stiff? Stiff. Why? Each rap recalls,
Unearth past heaves from your chest
And I cannot bear to watch it dance
From this open air alone—ko ko ko—
Let libation from an alien horizon
Collide your eaves, bartering torment
With bold infinitudes of a regal dawn.
Let palm shreds, a nation’s music, quiet
Satiation from succoured cavern of bones

As this gorge, grimly gauged, yet clay
To the touch of fingers, deft as severance,
As tentacles of voice, as the truth…
Alas Kongi, for a renaissance, we
Enthrone you saint of shapes,
Guardian of troves, unbidden,
Doling their pity by the wait…
I do not dare to think tomorrow is
Abode for the estranged.

Ko ko ko, Kongí ò!
I merely await your glance
Time appoints you priestly sage,
Imhotep of our season, shut of breath but—
Unseen are the pliant shoulders, grime on wrists.
Their ache is the flutter of memories—behold
Eyes in awe from this enclave’s delirium
While rites recede to grey waters

Still, Kongí recedes not,
Whose soles wield blisters
To the weathered mount of truth,
Whose night-webbed brows have cast
Twilight’s tepid trance upon a veil
Of human sufferance, rage and gore,
The rift and midnight rave even as
Ages fell and lineages tell

But—yes—the fall never bent
Your world. I know your heart
Sweetly spawns as webs respun
On dawn’s epiphanies, borne in tapestries
Of seasons, of visions against
A dogged decree of decay…
Why must you set forth? The human breath
Of things? A morning feet plowing
Life’s seamlessness? Whisper, Kongí
This door; is it your deliverer?

Ko ko ko, Kongí ò!

Monday, 20 June 2016

Gbokoyi's Road | by Oyin Oludipe

Gbokoyi was special. She was the deed of the Road, of the filament of conniving gods. Mama teased her, "You are the pretty one Ogun gave passage into my womb.". . .

Gbokoyi was single... "Her life shall be a tryst with the giver of the Road alone; for the Road alone gave her life," our village priest told us. And so, the floods of a lonely June became for her slit currents of lecherous spirits. . .

On the roads, she saw them - a hundred abami edas crushing groins on her vision of the miles, rabid in love and greed. On the roads, Gbokoyi was Queen and Slave. . .

One moon, Ghosts from the Beyond came and gave us strange new roads. Long leeches of iron and smoke came and went on them... and so did Gbokoyi. One night, she went and never returned. . .

Mama received a letter tonight - a dropping paper from the Beyond. The rains have begun, and we all gather above the kitchen lantern.


These nights, her wails from Lagos fight the village hills; and I still hear the floods of June scream Gbokoyi's name.

Monday, 15 February 2016

In Your Laughter | by Oyin Oludipe

for Ami

In your laughter, heavens linger

And I wonder if the rainbows quiver

On your voice’s tenderness—as I—

As hair—as all the world that spins on your tongue

When shards of your presence touch me here,

Shredded in thunders. In your laughter,

Paths resonate, a season desires veneration

In dreams, and all epiphanies of a brittle sky

Unfetter the prisoned heart—and glow…

But not from any other but itself

Upon the hour of immolation…

Or was it the hour of revelation

At those sunlight notes who in their long

Jolly jump make radiant rainbow arcs

Beyond the grief of lone horizons?

Ami, your laughter is freedom—a garland ray—

Honey filament for the panting lobe

To the famished skies by the west—

But will you not first bestow to me

As true the rude cloud must eavesdrop

The stillness of even your song?

In your laughter, the noon succumbs,

And fantasies flutter like a nest of transcendent birds

Coursing to air-roots, to sudden plunges

Of the heart in sugar seams and melodic veins;

Eternities dance in your laughter, Ami—as air—

They dance—as that defiance of sand—

As the desire of wind—in instant passion—

As the courage of fire…

I know your laughter, Ami

I know your laughter—

O I know your laughter, like the hurricanes

Of my midnight skull, when bush-spirits

Caterwaul around my head

I know your laughter

Like the tickle beneath my scalp, like

The wandering manuscript beneath my desk, or that

Primordial rein of the telephone ballad

In quiet recesses of my fear…

In your laughter, my solitude is a silence

In your laughter, my silence is a story

First published in 'Love in A Moribund World: An Anthology of Love Poems'

Image credit: Cinnamon Cooney

Monday, 18 January 2016

The Volume of Love, Grief and Music | A Conversation

(L,R) Wale Owoade, Oyin Oludipe

THAT VIRTUAL evening, relishing the possibility of a postscript for EXPOUND's The Dirty Issue, we had slipped into other diversions of the mind. One of those had been hiswhat he did consider—primordial longings for the city of Abéòkúta and the AKÉ Book and Arts Festival, whose songs had just begun to swell from across the miles to Ìlorin, home to his university life.

Another, however, was my intimation around a poem he had written a day before our meeting. The below is a conversation - a brief communion of thoughts which had ensued after Wale Owoade's interesting work:

THE VOLUME OF LOVE, GRIEF AND MUSIC is a rewarding read.

Thank you, brother.

I read, “Love is air / And dear at the same time…”

You know, I have always asked myself this: which of these two, really, is immortal?

Life or Love?

It’s a tricky one. From what I have seen, I will go with none. Both are slaves to time.
In another thought, there is an ‘afterlife’ for love: memories.

Tricky thought, I think.
Yet, it would be Life that shall give Love a capacity of being;
Even though we soon, eventually, in life, lose many things we love.

Love is slave to life; life is slave to time.
I agree.

Then what is Time slave to? Death?

Yes. Death. Which reminds me of this question:
Is death ripeness?

“Rust is ripeness, rust / And the wilted corn-plume…”
That is according to Kongi. Well, it is only convenient for a
Bored world to call ripeness staleness.
Nonetheless, we await the promise of the rust.

True. Those who wait rust…
Those who cannot wait die?

Those who rust wait to die.
Marvellously, every soul eventually does rust.

Interesting. The soil lusts after our rust.

Or, perhaps, it is our rust that lusts after the soil.


Yes. Beautiful.

Wale Owoade is a Nigerian poet. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in publications like: Diverse Anthology of World Contemporary Poets, Via GrapeVine II, The Lake Poetry Journal, Yellow Chair Review, Euonia Review, Black Mirror Magazine, WORD Up, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, and many others. Wale is the Publisher and Managing Editor of EXPOUND: A Magazine of Arts and Aesthetics and is currently working on his debut manuscript.