What We Are Has No Name
Ohia, Ernest Chigaemezu
What We Are Has No Name
he reads from a poem he had written hours ago
as they walk past the hostels that had some of those big willow trees
lining the university streets the other boy is smiling
& dreaming of pancakes & remembers he had wanted his space
even though the one reading the poem would never agree
you say you fear definitions, that they limit the poet reads now see how
my love is a bastard crossing lines, shifting phases,
then he takes the pancake-dreamer’s hand in the dim light of the
& continues seeking homes in other bodies because i cannot call you mine.
the one dreaming of pancakes shakes his head slowly he thinks
they are never going to be the same not after the poet had made him
into a shell of the person he once was & there is no explanation for it
& all he wants to do is erase the memories he has of them since
they linger in places he keeps running away from but when they get to
the pancake-dreamer’s room that smell of lavender he let the poet come in
because he still misses his fingers his bed which had soaked up so much
semen & blood & spittle & urine & sweat wanted the poet too
so they kiss first & the poet tells him you’re too sweet. you’re how
a rainbow should taste, if our tongues were capable of understanding
but both remain limp until they give up
in bed the pancake-dreamer thinks of a young lecturer
he wishes he were in bed with him the lecturer’s biceps around
his tiny body comforting him breaking him building a home
not even the loud snores of the poet could disturb his thoughts
he looks at the poet who is bedraggled & smiles with pity
he had loved him so much that he could not breathe
& he consumed his entire being for a longer time
but what does he know about love
he misses the morning walks the races in the field the movies
all the fun things they did & he is certain there is still a piece of him
in the poet a piece bigger than most memories he had had of a thousand people
put together all he had wanted was an assurance that something was growing
because love is hard work & sometimes you have to ask yourself just how much
you can take & you keep taking & losing until you are tired soul-drained
& sometimes you have to leave or tell someone to
the pancake-dreamer knows it is hard for the poet to un-love him but now
he is fully awake thinking & the poet is asleep dreaming they are still here
This Poem Doesn’t Care If You Like It or Not
(after Laurie Lamon’s This Poem Doesn’t Care That It Isn’t a Sonnet)
This poem doesn’t care if there are such things as rap
or weightlifting or beard gang; doesn’t really care about WWE;
it doesn’t agree with the part of Biology that says
boys have deep voices, the hypersexuality of the males
that make up 50.4% of the human population; this poem
is not interested in strong liquors or football or butch riders with
ripped arms and leather boots and power bikes;
this poem doesn’t want to know what civil rights exist
in Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Iraq, etc. or how boys
are taught to be hard; it has stopped thinking of stereotypes
that define who to love, how to express love, what to wear,
how to deal with depression, or who should cook.
This poem adores rainbows, butterflies, androgynies oozing sex appeal,
girls who care less of make-up or high heels, girls with dyed hair
or anklets or tattoos, the man in a tuxedo and a black gown;
it wants the tales of white sheets, men vulnerable to
the bodies of their lovers, how perfect their skins feel against the other.
This poem says Fuck You to some social constructs,
it doesn’t give a damn what you think of it.
- Suppose I begin this poem by showing you someone, say a girl. Suppose I speak of her as teenaged, possessing a skin with such beautiful gardens on it. Suppose she knew about us as I read. A smile appears slowly on her face, disappears in nanoseconds. To be honest, I know about the lack. I have not stopped talking about it. I am aware of the fact that she likes to sit under that crabapple tree at the park, wondering what it is like to bloom in a body she abhors. The whole magic. The despair. I am aware of the wars, times she fought so hard to hold onto herself & not break apart.
- She is standing naked in front of her mirror. Her coffee skin glowing in the light of her kerosene-lit lantern, coffee skin that was put up for sale the other day, great coffee skin they said. Her stubborn hair, some thick bush. Her breasts, fuller. She likes what she sees this time. She twirls, stretches her arms & twirls more, like a Ferris wheel. Fast. Faster. Fastest. She stops. What was she doing? She had no one to remind her of the sunlight in her body, or the stormy wind under her eyes. Soft girl. Daisy. Ordinary. Quaint.
- There were never any rules. The only one that comes to mind says, you are condemned to love yourself so fierce. Even now, after much unfulfilled wishes, our girl wants to remain beautiful. She wants to drink more coffee. She wants to be the sky. The rain. & the beginning of a love so strong or lousy, depending on what song the nights leave her with. Her skin, a new religion, is terrific. She should take it back, every part of it. Who would own it & not worship? Who would own it & worship?
Ohia, Ernest Chigaemezu is a Nigerian short story writer, poet, and editor. He holds a Bachelor degree in English/History and wishes to pursue an MFA in Creative Writing someday. His work has been published in Rigorous, Eunoia Review, The Muse, agbowo, Dwarts Magazine, Nantygreens, amongst others.
*Image by Eiliv-Sonas Aceron on Unsplash