Aubade to Transfiguration in a House of Ghosts & Other Poems
my sex drive as basis for other interpretations of newton’s laws of motion
after Chaun Ballard and Itiola Jones
swing low, sweet chariot
coming for to carry me home
─ believed to have been originally composed by Wallace Willis, circa 1840.
first law: a body at rest tends to remain at rest, a body in motion tends to remain in motion at a constant speed, in a straight line, unless acted upon, by an outside force
you ask where i’ve been wounded in the past
shut the door behind you here just at the intersection
of collarbones a tendon has come apart three ribs broken
last night at a raided party fistfight just before daybreak
ankle bone displaced in a stampede jagged cranium
forced open by the police at a sanctuary stripped
of its sanctity jawbone smashed shoulder blade pressed
against a protesting wall a fortnight ago at a mall
here does this put an end to your curiosity
second law: in an inertial frame of reference, the vector sum of the forces f on an object is equal to the mass m of that object multiplied by the acceleration a of the object (ie; f=ma, where m is constant)
Take f to be an armed mob laying siege at sundown
by the pavement down benson street waiting
for my coming out or a friend who invites you over
and invites the police too or the receptionist who says sirs
two men are forbidden to share a room here
take a to be acceleration of my body due
to gravitation further propelled by my father’s
eyes bloodshot unforgiving as i have now become
and unbowed too for pressure makes all things whole again
and m a persistent departure of my body salt of the earth
in osmosis feeding on its own tissues to survive a long fast
third law: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction which is to say that when one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body
all the rooms i ever fled from tell me that grief is a last
applause of colours shed from a cherry blossom in wilt
all the people i ever saw all the laws of physics i ever
committed to memory
all broken fingers porcupinepierced flesh swollen feet
i carry with me in this journey of endless distances.
Aubade to Transfiguration in a House of Ghosts
Kaya now. Got to have kaya now,
Got to have Kaya now,
For the rain is falling.
─ Bob Marley.
At first light, I wake to find you
breathing softly into my chest,
you, whose blocks of breaths
spread like peppercorn seeds
drawing sunrays unto themselves,
here in the weak light of morning.
I freed a sea turtle trapped under a rock
by the waterside in my sleep, I long to tell you,
for the joy of remembering
the tender touch of things that leave
and are never seen again.
Last week, a girl left me for dead under her crushing weight,
and in the time that passed
between my dying and her departure,
she sighed to the Lord above and flung
a grenade of curses underneath:
‘you need prayers,’ she said, ‘not a woman’s touch.’
Outside, a volley of heavy raindrops splashed
on my windowsill,
to punctuate Marley’s serenade
on the stereo:
I want to give you some good, good loving.
Splash of rainwater.
Turn your light down low.
Splash. Another splash.
I’m still gathering your breaths in sequences
of experiments with question marks for endpoints.
Is my queerness something to be wished away?
Do I become dead to you when I say that?
Here, dangling from my left thumb, is the key
to a forgotten door.
Here. Find me.
- In this room is a body in plasters and scaffolding acting out a script. In this script my shapeshifting starts, rises like dragonsmoke.
- My sequined boots have known this route by many names as they have known pathways well-kept from light and sound.
- My hands on this windowpane are talismans for survival, which is why they bend in lieu of cracking,
- which is why I wait for an imaginary lover to emerge at nightfall like the builders on the other side,
- which is why I wait to spit out this gnawing song stuck in my throat, to burst into a symphony of rapid music as offering to his entrance,
- while fists of evening air drift in to paper these naked walls, dancing to their own tunes in the dark: a song I long to sing to this jaded body, open as a canyon.
- My mouth ─ a river’s tributary ─ tells you how the mason rediscovers loneliness in the song of a bird at close of work, sliding into the sunset;
- in the eyes of fish caught in a net singing dirges to the last flicker of candlelight they’ll ever see;
- in the peaks and valleys of an electrocardiogram bearing terrible news;
- This is how you long for love at nightfall while a wishbone grows where a lover should be.
- I could be a Rembrandt, or tucked away in a Picasso vignette, seeking everything time after time, yet finding nothing
Chisom Okafor, a Nigerian poet, nutritionist and dietitian, was also a Finalist for the Gerald Kraak Prize of 2019 and presently edits the Libretto Chapbook Series.
*Illustration: ‘Cost of Our Abomination’ by Sef Adeola.