Ruins of Neglect & Other Poems
Olumide Manuel S.
a boy lost in thunderstorms
—a drenched pillow heaves somewhere in this dark
dark palimpsests of blooms
the sky took him like a burnt offering, psychedelia narrated
in balloon languages.
what tethers you to your heaven? what hell have you
seen? the abrasive tongue holds its own thunder,
when it rolled, an ark of pills floats
asunder. when it ruined, you driftwood
like a wounded cherub.
what knives are you disguising as joy?
you reopen fresh wounds to relive the fall
its florals & thorns teeth & apostles
the anguished music hormoned to your lungs
I told you, there's no disco in paradise; cocaine
strums the guitar chords*, yea, rock riddled with
violet, yea— palpitations, wild flights, inversed gravity.
& these are stairs, boy, walking you back
to a broken morning not more shattered than
your body, at the vortex of storms, of your hands.
*Wandered to LA by Juice Wrld
Ruins of Neglect
the funnel of perennial grief, this body,
burning itself in the wake of history—
in one corner, someone caught the ocean
in a dragnet, a pull on the Celsius scale.
put the measure in your mouth and spell f i r e—
in another corner, the skirts of Amazon
caught a wild flame, a pregnant porcupine
sits between dews & ashes,
her body, weary of needling up an unheard protest—
Greta Thunberg holds thunder in her tongue
but nothing breaks the landlord's slumber
ridging into carbon, layered with bonds of nails &
charcoal songs. do you understand that we wear
the same body? that the air eats us alike like clouds?
that the ruins of your neglect is ruining me too?
this neglect splitting the delta, the oil hugging
the opercula of a naked city—
In Port Harcourt, oxygen is a burnt lady,
her weight of sin inhaled into the lungs of boys
left fish-mouthed at the juncture Rumuokoro grieves—
mouth to mouth with chimneys, the trachea whistles
a black dirge into a shredded version of nightmares
unbodying the logarithms of our collective futures.
Olumide Manuel is a Pushcart-nominated poet, an environmentalist, and a biology teacher from Nigeria. His poetry has been published/forthcoming in Twyckenham Notes, Feral Poetry, Uncanny Magazine, Agbowó Magazine, Magma Poetry, Sandstorm Journal, Sublunary Review, Ice Floe Press, Club Plum Literary Journal, ARTmosterrific Journal, Gigantic Sequins, Isele Magazine, Muse Pie Press, Frontier Poetry, and elsewhere. He tweets @Olu_midemanuel