I SWEAR, I WANT TO GIVE YOU HOPE Come along. I do not style this poem into a maze, so, you do not have to stare too long at a metaphor. Every line of poetry should remind one of hope. If I tell you this poem only remembers its thirst for love and life, resolute not to unlive itself before it can breathe again, will you read on? In another language, my pain could mean power. un enfant seul; hear the grief in those vowels. See the magic in saying a cluster of letters smeared on a page can morph my pain into a wand. Every morning and this is before I greet the sun I am reminded of how nightlife is not so boring; I can carve myself into an owl, a star, Into everything that enjoys the night except me. Isn't that how art is exhumed? A little craze. A little craze. A cascade of craziness. I swear, I want to give you hope, dearest reader. But my thumbs are weary from scratching. I have found nothing. There is a way to leave this poem without offending it: Promise to return when you can't find home again. Promise to return when you can't find home again. HOW TO GO TO GOD AND REMAIN THERE. "I am terrified at the moral apathy, the death of the heart, which is happening in my country. These people have deluded themselves for so long. They really don't think I am human. I base this on their conduct, not on what they say. And this means that they have become, in themselves, moral monsters." - James Baldwin And this day is not such a different one, except for the heightened rage of the sun; except for the strangers in the street circling a body like vultures; except for their voices trying to name this body before owning it, before killing it; this body; a kneeling boy, wearing the face of one who loved boys, who knew how to love boys; and these people know this face; they must peel it; they must peel it; it is how to erase a mistake in a book; a tyre for his neck; a stone for his head; and a fire to smoke him straight to God; an offering of purification, of cleansing, of taking God's hands and doing his work; except they don't become God; but monsters, intentional about their sin; and they watched the boy burn; the boy; who looked at their faces, searching for what he had deprived these strangers; air?; happiness?; milk?; the boy; who in the hell, was eager to go to God and remain there; and he did; in a rising of grey, grey smoke; and no one knew his name. From my window, the whole madness is like a scene in a movie; except I am an actor; and the burning boy is a looming foreshadow; except I have a name, yet. THE MAN SLEEPS ON This time tomorrow, grief will not be a part of everything. Logan February I am intentional about finding home. Here reeks of a shattering desolation. A lone wolf dies a lone wolf; a song for unkind children. Where am I welcome to say, I am gay, without long fingers tugging at my gullet in a brief? This is the story of a boy who was told to tame his fire into a thing that burns into girls. It is what you hear too often before a man loses himself to his grief; before his fire consumes him and he bursts into the front page of a newspaper: SUICIDE IN A SMALL TOWN BESIDE A LAKE. And the readers stir into a sigh, unaware they have become, too quickly, the sun ripening a fruit into rot. Beside the lake, the man sleeps on. At night, the water tries to pull him in, into a place he can no longer remember his grief was what the town put around his neck and tightened. The water tries to pull him home. The water tries to pull him home. HE HATCHED INTO A HOWL I have called God twice. When I leapt into the street as a child, I was reminded to strap my hips with stiffness, That swaying was what boys did before they began to touch other boys. At seven, I lost my strap to a choking night. This was before I was called a seedling of Sodom, before I was spooned disgust from loud mouths, before welts glowed green, then red, on my skin. With each stroke of pain, I could no longer house God in my throat. He hatched into a howl. When I strayed into a boys heart and bumped into things I liked, he promised me everything. Take. Take it all, he said, that it was the thing about love to have one thing and lose everything. I have you, he said. And he lost himself to an early lump in his kidney. In the darkness of my room, I rolled God in my voice and raised it to heaven. I did not want light. I wanted my lover who promised me company in the dark. And I have been alone for far too long; learning to love this darkness, this stillness. Who lied of singing free birds? I am chained to my thoughts, but I can sing. A dirge is a song too; a sorrowful pleasantness for this lingering fate. Because God is the only intruder without fault, I have learnt to say welcome before I begin to cry.
About the Author:
Bryan Obinna Joseph Okwesili is a queer Nigerian poet and storyteller, keen on telling diverse African queer stories. His works explore the interiority and tensions of queerness in a heteronormative culture in which he imagines a world of inclusivity.
He is a 2020 Pushcart nominee(SmokeLong Quarterly) and a Finalist for Tupelo Quarterly Open Fiction Prize.
His works appear and are forthcoming in Craft, SmokeLong Quarterly, Slice mag, Foglifter Press, Tupelo Quarterly, Brittle Paper, Rising Phoenix Review, Ghost City Review, Cypress, Shallow Tales Review, and elsewhere.
He is currently a student of Law at the University of Calabar, Calabar.
Featured image by Kollsd /Pixabay