—after a photograph by Alvin Baltrop

He looks through the wound of my life like it’s light. So I let him. The last cube of ice. Outside the tray. Where I found him. My lover. Melts atop this brick, as if it’s our last whiskey together. His brown, more fragrant, more dangerous than whiskey. You couldn’t miss him. Nothing lasts. Of promise. Such is the promise of light. Not even day breaks between us. Black joy, cresting over and over the summer sun. Kept a spiral of his hair, in a box, like a favour. His favourite pair of trainers. The taste of his lips where we first kissed. Where we first blissed. I couldn’t— though I tried. To keep him. Wouldn’t keep. Still. Nor true. Keep up. How could he keep me, when he refused to keep time? Didn’t keep me in compliments. Was I supposed to keep sweet? Look. We discovered day like it was fire. Flesh, like empire. Touch like bloodlight. Yes. Count me down like a missile. As of tomorrow and the day after. As of this darkening gelatin and silver. As of the moon and the monsoon rain. As of these piers. As of America and all its splendour. As of the alleyway and the archive. As of this F-stop. And this fuck. And the next. As of this click and shutter. As of the daffodil and every queer thing that obliterates winter.

Half Girl, Then Elegy

Having fallen while no one was looking
Having borne what fell through
Having fallen early
/
Having barely fallen through myself
My luck, so close to catching,
Having caught the worst of it
/
Having fallen from the sky, and then
Through it. Having landed to realize
I had been part
/
Having parted the late sky, partly
Sky where I am delicate, I took
A tumble through the night bloom
/
I took the night with me as I tumbled,
Delicate with the infinite,
Which swells from the tallest branch
/
Having grown swollen
As low-hanging fruit, I tell Nadra,
I couldn’t help it—
/
The fresh heave of new breast
Thick switch of hip: a group
Of unnamed gifts is called a steal
/
She says, fruit you can reach is still
Precious. Her name means rare: her lean
Thins towards the unusual.
/
In Lagos, we name our girls
Darling, Sincere, Precious, because
A name is a stake in the grave
/
Having grieved and taken and taken
On the way to Eros, Thanatos
Having arrived late to my own bloom:
 
 
Halve me like a walnut
Pry the part of me that is hollow
From the part that yields fruit.

Related Poems

Art Movie

Red is a secret in the trees. The train passes through the trees in Alabama. Red earth red earth. The winterlight consumes the field. The light silvers. The light relieves. The light thrown as dust upon the field I put my ear in. I crack an egg, and a saxophone that tells on me, yells at me, comes out no yolk. The train hollers to stop. The train stopped, still loads new passengers, but the conductor won’t let me get off and kiss you. You know that’s what I haunted to do. The stage is the window circle between us. The emergency exit door. I keep you in my ear and give you how I’m doing and what I want to eat were I not on a train. You and your white boots. You tell me what else could come out of an egg—women all the way down, holding waists. The train is a place going by, strictly passing through. I touch a stranger’s wrist going back to my seat, the whole train becomes a garment I put on. I touch indiscriminately. I can’t stay, I tell the dog waving from your convertible. None of the windows open. I held your gaze until I couldn’t. In the previous scene, I took you to the slip until we were shining tunnels for sound. I took your sound for my name. Never asked what I called myself.

there is no flash

the eyes            fine tuned            perhaps

                    consciously       a first time offense

to focus on    cliché                              heaven

          a great white trope:     the white light 

the first time I nearly died

          I reached too            towards                 imaginary white

lands of white hands draped in white robes white rings glowing
      above white heads

      instead I forced my niece to enter my mind           her first

word   light      an opened fist of light             mouthed

           see the light see the light see              the light

some midnight season of new moons      an annihilation

      of the obscenity of the bright white flesh

of a glistening cold moon poking through the night

                                               my father says                   show me the
      poet

who knows      absolute darkness            is    the light

  my niece sings this little light of mine & points in the darkness 

   this little light see the light of mine I’m gonna let see the light

                           friends                         there is no light at the end

only hunger    muted            & sharp     blinding rage

of the mind’s kaleidoscopic emptiness oh it is blindingly white

Brief Interval

I knew what I was about
stroking your lovely
neck in the perilously
brief
interval at the intersection of
desire, the real, and feminist
derring-do.

And if the intersection is three
or four points of variance,
divergence, diversion,
aversion, and hapless brief
interval
larger than the grid,
in dread of a walled corner,
a piano stool, a
contraband .38,
and that flip of an
eye eros,
oh, throat

I don’t do well with
expectation. Come up
here if it’s too cool a
story below with your
windows cracked.
Higher is warmer
in this last,
fast
phantasmic
interval.