September 27, 2022

open city

after Teju Cole

i have been further south than my heart
heavy in the shape lagos takes at nights:
broken streetlights, yellow but unlit buses,

rapid music, news muss, gutter origins,
the city is aquamarine, or something close to beryllium. eden is found.

i walk to its gates of grisly fruits & dreams,
transfigured in the body a gardener takes when coming down from the alps.
photographic, & green.

before me, the day wanders
for ten miles briefly,

then aims at celluloid in pursuit after the reasons why i still want
to be in the picture i cannot name; the child i was definitely sorrowful,
seated between a mother out of school & a father fixed to his writing desk.

“you will never see the end of the word, father,” he says.
but i keep looking for him who is in heaven.

i stretch optimism far out, yet not enough
to reach the clouds, his love for beautiful girls.

“i want to see the shape of the meaning of the illusions we share,
the traffic & the government trapped in the need to sprout,” i say.

someone grows from ruin to road, a taxi driver.
i never knew i have long rented a cab until i hit the third mainland bridge

of political heights spread across the dust
of the orphaned streets. i drive through 1960,

pick an old poet & friend who lives under sand & steel, make old enemies new,
& waves at an angel

naked except for her hopes, hips &
her thighs,

breastfeeding a cat of the wild family;
i see flora. it is independence day & here’s a new

british flag for the soul; a meal of cactus, horses & eagles
for the body. i see the white flowers fed with the glory of green petals.

driving is growing, so i grow into omni-bus.

everyone cannot be seated inside a moving book.
” where’s sebald? ” i ask. he’s standing as one

of the nationalists in the broken mirrors of my head,
his hollow face pressed against a window showing

landscapes worse than what has become roots deep in him.

i was not surprised, neither did he convince himself
in a slow bus ride to discovery. i have taken an oath,

long time, a hundred precolonial constitutions ago,
to carry him on the right side of my brain

each time i go hiking,
looking for the word, origin.

i couldn’t have left my past trailing in a dark skin.
& the man of history riding a bicycle

caught up with me at the museum.

look! they have replaced the stolen country
cast in bronze with the free birds.

freedom comes and goes, with old
responsibilities stuck on its frail back. a weight

that builds its body from the spine.
we have to be bent, work hard to drink

a real juice;

this, you know, is the only consolation of being.
but i have long chosen the path on

which to forget myself.

i exist in crossroads which leads to everyone,
so much that, most times, i feel i am everyone

lost in relativity. at the center of everything,
i drop history & walk on barefoot

into my heart the shape lagos takes at night;
a little bit of zanzibar, a little of stockholm.


Kant As President

transcendence is
a
city. & Freud, the old philosopher, is its new light.
i am in a 2018 porsche cayenne with a kantele,
broadcasting the news with portraits & naira notes
that my father
has become God. he needs a heaven to live.
the streets are empty yet emotional.
i drive past languages, lovers, houses or quiet vacuums.
every home lives in Utopia & noise with no one.
hands stretched beyond the roads the horizons.
if they were fed, i wouldn’t have taken the country
through the famished love for the votes. God has been given
his favorite height,
the
other
lights
die. the wind raises a hurricane
in my head. i work hard to switch on
the lamp in my mind, & i see clearly
in the dark the Ijaw word (agegen yor) for fireflies
dispersing.
which
desires
that
i
write
it
on
the
umbra
i
do
not
see,
the
lovers
i
am
seeing


painting the world of a man on the body of a pregnant woman

for melissa, broken woman

alone, tenderly alone, with no one to unbreak her with love,
stone or flower, she hobbles out of herself into canvas.
puts the curse or man behind the child laughing
in its oval passage; the texture of the small dimples.

remembers how painful love is. how insufferable a boy can be.
calls from the blankness for colours & the radial easel
to make her a wife with a friend & a piano,
to play her to whole notes.
art is music full of colors. so i readjust the wooden stretcher.

” lay down your secrets” i say it in soft quavers.

she falls next to the oil paints.
my fingers or pastels connect the lines on her skin
until her bodies become one.

“ push,” i say. she opens all of herself. pours out her beautiful
portrait for a man in a hotel room in hawaii, kissing the girl
he will love as a woman in another club here in a city, shaped like
the hands of a man on the breasts of a lady.

darling, you have given birth to God in your own image;
the closest thing to art, & it’s holy.

 

Cover photo source: Pixabay

Tares Oburumu is a lover of God & his daughter, Sasha. He writes from 25 kilometers away from Warri, Nigeria. His works have appeared on Connotation Press, Agonist, Expound, Nantygreens, Naijastories, Tuesday poems, Ngigareview, Agbowo, Woven Tales, Kalahari, Africanwriter, Bluepepper, Juked, and elsewhere.

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