Lonely Night the Poet Sells Himself as Lover to Dream

on November 26, 2021
Download as PDF
All the lights call it a day. All the marigolds
go to sleep. The finches manufacture music
from the latex of their throats. Let troughed 
tangled briars beg the earth for a moment. Let 
winter sit still & patient. There is no remedy 
to song severed in the neck. There is no remedial 
way to go about yesterday’s business. All things 
could mean amen or hallelujah. & I could 
touch you the way you haven’t been touched 
before, like a poet. The lights would wake up 
again. The marigolds, dust sleep off their shed 
eyes. Wild. I could make wild a verb in your 
body, you see. Let’s count the piano keys. Let me 
put my mouth to the tenderest parts of you. Did you 
as a child taste the rain on your tongue straight 
from the sky— we could have yesterday again 
in this body we now carry. Lyrical sheets of 
what— daylight? How the lamp of your voice
wakes things inside me. How things break in 
the cathedral when you sing. How the cathedrals—
our bright bodies—                  transcend the music 
of the moment we inhabit & waste in, like a poem. 
Let me love you. Let me touch you. Like a poet. 
Daylight. I swear you will know the difference.



I waited patiently for summer to arrive,
for wonder to come. Wonder is here now, 

its light on everything, its promise in crook
of my spine; summer sits by my door like

the girl whose heart I left in no jar in her
hands like a present— small animal beating,

unknown— & I don’t know what to do
with myself. Where morning hides her 

eggs, there are two score & twenty-one
doves, the country that is my mother’s body.

Mourning is the hideout that wears me.
Grief, the paper bow that tears me up. I 

never sucked on your toes. Piano keys. I
didn’t munch on the tulip enough. Door,

where? The yellow light of this song sits
on my front porch. I want to kiss your mouth,

to learn your body, to suck the cowries
clean. I want you in summer. I want you,

Wonder. Shuku shuku, bam bam. Somewhere,
I swear, the lights make a mango 

into           a moment. All that we have.

Ernest O. Ògunyemi is a staff writer at Open Country Mag. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in JoylandTinderboxSierra Nevada ReviewJournal NineThe Indianapolis ReviewDown River RoadCapsule StoriesNo TokensThe West ReviewThe Dark MagazineMud Season ReviewAgbowóIsele, and in the anthology 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry III. He is the curator of The Fire That Is Dreamed of: The Young African Poets.