Shiftings & Other Poems
Foraging in a Nightmare
Gloom is the filthy handkerchief
peeping from a rotting breast—
wrinkled youth weeping blood,
puckered by a crustacean’s grip.
It is the scent of talcum
as I send latex gloves flying
for the bin. The trajectory
of a dire diagnosis.
Her perfect teeth flash a weary smile
I am fine, thank you. My smile
in return is nothing. My mite
is my presence in this charade.
Life is a mangled joke
dangling by its gag line,
fractured in the places
teeth have dug in for laughter
Do not ask me for a lie.
His face is a veil, a shield
for the mischief of grief.
It does not insulate
it keeps things down.
Green leaves become brown carpet
beneath famished feet foraging
in a nightmare.
Let us baptise verbs in moonshine
scroll down timelines, fritter night away
click a bait about a looming doom
the neck cold with apprehension
Let the known past return into new light
heroes are de-haloed as paedophiles
little black books are found in hallowed closets
and history’s boulders yield to the sceptic’s prod
The steadfast now is assailed by tales
of human flood from ruptured universes
it drowns in the Aegean, overruns charged fences
then bobs up belly-wise in a German embrace
Trails of avid dread and forgetting flee Aleppo
of infant shoes and pacifiers crushed underfoot
orphaned cries cling to the charred shrubbery
and the bloated Mediterranean burps bodies
To keep faith? To keep keeping on,
on this tectonic present, revisiting each day
with tears, downgrading each dream
in the light of humanity’s bargain?
Shoot it if it roars from the rear
or leaps on you from the trees
if it slithers in the meadow
shoot it. Dead. They said.
But when you are by yourself
in the twilight where man gropes for fate
with each adviser paid or hanged,
you have to be your own man
I find myself in interstices
where light has yet to turn the bend
and the shapes of things to come
gather pseudopods from the promised gloom.
Tunji Olalere lives in Sheffield, UK.