Oyin Oludipe

for a self-exile, gángán companion

Omo ìyá—
He calls me this, with coarse
Drum syllables, fine-mannered
Stillness, like primal incandescence
Of Night.

‘Omo ìyá, e feràn àyán!’

My soul’s romance for Drum
His bewilderment spawns:
For why should I, Blackie Metropolitan,
Transient like an August thunderclap
Romance his drum?
Yet, on some nights,
Where the White Collar rumples
In strange despairs, and calculations
Bare crouching spines…

All his world is a tavern.
And I am a spring-haired boat,
And I am drowned, in song-rivers,
Note-reeds, ancient descant, and dance
Till resurgence taps me gently on the back

Gángán: The talking drum; hourglass-shaped drum of the Yoruba from West Africa
‘Omo ìyá, e feràn àyán!’: ‘Soul-brother, you enjoy the sound of drums!’


Certain recessions are of the mind,
Where crossroads run infinite…
The day is a basket of masks.
At night, I am of two worlds,
Two lights, two tremors,
In the earth of my choice.

Certain recessions are of the mind,
Whose hole is the navel of bargain;
Whose hole lets a howl run naked to the skies
The notes set forth at dawn—
Then return the next, breathless, footless.

Certain depressions are of the knee,
Where the world is a quivering breast,
Between the lips of Knowledge and Death.

The world is in my hands,
But it is also on my back,
Where savoured passages evade the eyes

Oyin Oludipe was a judge for the 2015 Green Author Prize, a literary award for young unpublished poets in Nigeria. He is the winner of the 2016 Christopher Okigbo Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in numerous art journals like The Luxembourg Review, Scarlet Leaf Review, The Bombay Review, Dissident Voice, The Elduvain Review, Sankofa Magazine, The Provo Canyon Review, and Sentinel Literary Quarterly: The Magazine of World Literature. Oyin is a co-editor at expoundmagazine.com.

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