Bola Opaleke: Three Poems

Nun raising Ra, from Book of the Dead of Anhai, BC 1050. Source: Wikipedia


A metaphor for darkness


A people seized the sun, somewhere 

in Africa. They sprinkle it into the sea

& there, let it simmer into ordinary sizzles,

coiled with bones of broken men; 

burnt men who, at first, refused to be boiled. 

The sweat & the green tears of cuffed women,

at dawn, rise & roar into different images

not known to the purple sky above. It becomes

Niger & Nile. So it seems: the sun that left never left.


To be a faith fool


Standing atop Olumo

to watch the mountain of Ibadan

undresses before its worshippers,


I saw also the gods of beauty & ruin

pleading on their knees, cowed


before a smitten sunshine & broken rain,

begging the night to not stop taking each dancer

by the hand into their darkened rooms;


to make them make peace with a blooming modernity

& expose the untruth that has long covered their nakedness.


Shadows of innocence


the body is a raging fire & the sea inside it is never calm.


I spent my entire first life

learning how my body was  

only mine to unlove. Because

concupiscence is a stone in the throat.


For the ensuing flood,

a candle escalates its black light

on my melting hand. A hand made

of liquid wax. A body not mine, made


of ash & gel. Was this not  

how I embraced disappearance

in my reincarnated life? With

skin enflamed, condemned


to a lifetime of burning?

When touches are not, at all, safe

I scoop a roving orgasm in twos & threes.

&, by that, I can tell the smoky taste of hell.


To gather all the darkness,

there is, in one tiny bowl

of grated blackness, & scream:

open me up like scissors; cut off


any part of fleshiness

not meant to exist unheld

or die apart. Name me, roughly,

like a falling mountain. Be obsessed,


ye fine people, with obsession.

For I am, sadly, slightly uninformed –

a warhorse saddled with the burden

of carrying someone else’s arrogance.


& because my demons were man-made,

I try to become water. To dissolve

into something never so named.

To crave hands with which


to hold back Time; tongue with which to unkiss the sun.


Bola Opaleke is the author of Skeleton of a Ruined Song. An award-winning poet, with poems appearing in a journals like Frontier Poetry, Rattle, CBC Books, The Nottingham Review, The Puritan, Literary Review of Canada, Sierra Nevada Review, The Indianapolis Review, Canadian Literature, and many more. He holds a degree in City Planning and lives in Winnipeg MB.