HOW DINNER COMES IN MY HOMETOWN by Ayodeji Israel

HOW DINNER COMES IN MY HOMETOWN by Ayodeji Israel

fried plantains and corn

HOW DINNER COMES IN MY HOMETOWN

by Ayòdéjì Israel

perhaps, this lunch of smokes with dried bodies and red wines of sad bloods

with elegies of jubilation fumed in the air whenever a fork rattles a flesh is no more redolent,

 

my neighbours packed in a pair of chickens last month to fete easter,

today, their–the humans–flesh & blood

have been melochized for their–animals–iniquities.

 

for this, my heart choked for having breath!

in this poem, there is a metaphor that avows the parts of a woman /slaisis/.

& in my hometown, a ware of fishes typifies pillage of human bodies,

 

my big aunt was late outside in the fog or the cloud of darkness sinking that night,

her body was found sliced like a body of onion with machete of rituals in the next day.

 

i got lost in the cave of despair that night!

in my hometown–/we must sow in order to reap/– they say

but for my kinsmen, they sow their seeds and reap the soft soma of their /si:ds/.

 

even now, as the old pillows of this rain are being shaken, i still wonder,

if this spick burden of waters shall be enough to lave the strains of folks

from the jugs and cups we take our dinners from, everyday…

 

if the rain ever falls.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ayòdéjì Israel is a student at the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria. He hails from Abeokuta in Nigeria. He is known for being a poet, writer, political activist, and many other things, and he is 21 years old.

THE CATERPILLAR’S CALIPERS by Jake Sheff

THE CATERPILLAR’S CALIPERS by Jake Sheff

bamboo ladder

THE CATERPILLAR’S CALIPERS

by Jake Sheff

I.

 

So much depends upon the muse’s invocation,

Glazed with white feathers all abandoned at

The rainy entry; signs of fire are present:

Cain and tar. A self-made song to justify

The ways of death to kings, or justify

The river’s way to Earth is inappropriate.

A bitter CPR, or effigy at Heaven’s gate

On fire, to assume the muse is great,

 

And would suffice. My hope – that king

Of feathers up against that thing with fathers –

Is to sing the roster of a nation: uppercut

And jab to spill the blood of now

On yesterday (the quickest death in nature

Is by man, of metal tooth and claw

That booms); a sandalwood or chamomile

As petrichor. And for a chicken sandwich

 

Ellis Island whips a calloused notion into

View: freedom on all planes: the center of

The world for trading barbs; peripheries

Of time and fomites; delusions of blandeur

And My Sharona. “The clenched buttcheeks

Of time withhold the ripest rhyme. It’s

Wrong, but time is not like other boys,”

The caveman said; “So put that in your song

 

And smoke it!” I heard the sleeping breath

Of children, holy as the roll of hill and lull

Of wave through ocean, light and mankind’s

Grave; I heard it down the avenue called

“S.” The caterpillars dancing, dead

And deeply on a dusky disc, threw me

A noisy look as from a nosey brook:

Our sinuous consensus wants you gone!

 

The ways of people bruised by fear, a planet

By the day’s endeavors, was afoot.

A single caterpillar spoke in my

Defense: “My friends, life on earth is serious

And indescribable, but remember Neely, who

Could jump and love like an immortal idea

Having fun; friendship doesn’t die with friends.”

His message was both antiwar and justifiably

 

Sarcastic. “I knew Neely, his way is not Neely’s,”

Another said of me. “My friend, you’re like

The water that admires its reflecting. Come,

This hatred is the devil’s laugh and livid

Fall; it fuels the godly engine in us all.  Let’s

Hear him out. Sir,” he turned to me, “Please utter us

Your antidote.” “Ha! Let’s hear this uterus of

Tartarus and dust his udders off!” To justify

 

Myself I said,  “Men seldom wear kilts while

They walk upon stilts.” And I was spared. “Why

Are they scared?” I asked my caterpillar friend.

“Because our recent population study, The Newt

Estimate, was subtitled, More Bad News.  Plus,

That sign said ‘Ave S’: you start to see yourself as

Food that’s asking for it. So, we changed the sign

To ‘S Ave.’” An RPG flew overhead. I bit a fig.

 

II.

 

The wrestling match that pitted Badland Bill

Against Mt. Rushmore ended badly for

Buzz Aldrin. “Vegetarian planet, this

Vestigial, vague vagina…” First, the swan

Of South Dakota mounted Lincoln, very

God-like, breaking off unleaded deals.

Habeas Corpus shouted from the cheap seats:

“Pity Badland Bill, his macho struggle

 

With the dead, white egrets and their living,

Lost regrets… Break this bitch’s labor!

Grind the prayers and wishes it excretes

Into a pull-up in his faces!” “Winter’s pension:

Paltry,” the caterpillar mumbled. “Summer’s

Noose is longer than its lease,” he said

To me and grinned. Then Teddy Roosevelt

Unpinned the reservation’s past, which sent it sadly

 

Wandering through garden ruins, buzzing like

A flyboy. Deadwood kept on changing corners:

“Mop the floor with his esprit de corps!

That Black Hills mamma jamma has a perfect

Butte!” The vendors hawked gold rush ambitions

To the dads and missile silos nursing nukes

That wanted nothing more. The Dust Bowl,

In the stench of dying faith and buzz of

 

Babies growing, said, “I thirst”; vestigial news

To Biff. At 9.8 punches per second per second

Thomas Jefferson rained blows! “This head-to-

Head’s hydraulic,” Noah joked familiarly to

The rainbow leaning on the ropes with outstretched

Particles of hand. Invisibly, the market taunted

Bill: “I float like a bloated fish and sing like

The expired pond!” An advertisement swan

 

Alighted in the ring; a southern coda did resound:

“A seed was planted on the sun, it grew

Democracy!” Prospectors mined the ring for

Nuggets of unconditional love, but forgot

Leave-in conditioner; the ring girl’s faux

Lament: “…to pair dramatic beef with feeble

Wine.” The caterpillar pulled his calipers

To mete out frankincense enough to out-meat

 

Frankenstein! “The image of a democratic

Death,” he’d have me buy. The herbal plot of

Man we screwed together wasn’t having it;

He ran off on a trail of sutured tears. A scalp

Was beneficial on our hunt; his torn off hairpiece

Swung from the branch of government called

Wounded Tree. “That tree cannot stop lying!”

Washington yelled, breaking the fourth wall and

 

Presidential seal. “It cherry-picks the facts.”

“Recalcitrant, the eaves shuffle off their mortal

Leaves,” announced Old Bill atop the post,

And tapping on his elbow, jumped. His move,

The Cantilever’s Chronic Chanticleer, landed

Square on the Great Society in the round, sent it

Riding roughly to a thrombocytic destination.

The nosebleeds had binoculars and hope.

 

III.

 

The doorbell rang (this was no knock-knock joke);

A high-toned Christian canyon opened up

Her spiritual gates. The boys walked in like serotonin

Yoked to karma, vagabonds in simple ties

And starch; a Gemini, with bearded interludes

And jasmine voices, tasked with innocence.

A niceness strung like tinsel on their faces

Petrified the air; a chicken crossed the road

 

For genuine persuasion. Kismet closed and lowballed

Questions feared by love. “Good evening, ma’am.

You never really wanted to be real, am I

Correct?” The gaping woman smiled: “Retired

Dead ends and cavernous friendships are real enough –

Andy Warhol got his fifteen facsimiles of black

And blue minutes…” The moment herniated. “…But

The years persist with self-abuse and righteousness.”

 

The sorrel room had walked on stage. “The resurrection

Is a footprint taking shape without a medium or

Foot…” (“I’ve got to mold it in her heart…”)

The other added: “Nothing is more vile than

Autumn’s rank-and-file.” On her divan a Cheshire cat

Was dying with a dying smile. Malarial, the moon

Rose to pour a glass of milk and timor mortis

In the room. A transcendental portal raised

 

A barn symmetrical as cemetery power

Outlets; electric salty air began to swim around

The walled-in circumstance. “You boys consider

That cork tree epicurean? But real art is

Always at risk of execution or exile. The label

Genius is a form of amnesty.” The problem

Factory’s hairy past and flaming teeth let loose

Per vias rectas: “Render unto basalt what is

 

Leisure’s, and Martinize the yeomen into

Reconstruction money.” “You boys, with all your

Digital meridians and soupy know-how…” The sky

Outside was old; it dribbled birds and bled an

Undistinguished red in nurses’ hands and razor towns.

The caterpillar sought confederates to test and

Unify the face of theory. “Just hold still!” he yelled

At Generals Lee and Custer as he plucked the winter’s

 

Scheherazade from out their tongues. And Disney

Basked with Sinbad back inside. “We offer jobs

And gates to anyone with ears. This fluid doesn’t

Freeze or boil.” “But it’s awful mean and blue. This

Loneliness is my chief asset.” The caterpillar

Chlorinated Haight-Ashbury, streaming up and through

The Goblin Valley. “Death be not casual! Throw

My art in jail or make it real!” (“She is ricin!”)

 

“My niece’s tonsillectomy went well,” I told the

Caterpillar. “That organ is the Socrates of sorcery,

Scored and natural.” “Come again?” I said. “Pandora’s

Thumb and wheat or corn; a confectionary of

Dunces!” A gonzo filibuster was at hand. “You plead

The fifth again?” I laughed, the very laugh that

Swept across the sky, and brushed aside its genitals and

Hurt. A tommy knocker strained the weather’s mind.

 

 IV.

As she walked out one evening into beauty,

Betsy Ross imagined dawn’s syndactyly had

Merged the wine-dark history with asterisks

Galvanized by the feminine mystique, and

Nature cocked his head to beg she speak more

Clearly. Doe-eyed, addiction’s choreographer

Mistook the bearer of the essence for the essence;

A birdie’s chirp for changing of the guard, or

 

Betsy Ross’s magic wand for rays of golden

Sun. A California poppy on Route 66 was put

On notice by the caterpillar: “A forbidden,

Botryoidal love.” Dime Store Denali, Misanthropy

And Strong Humiliation: Drugs for intellectual

Debugging.  Al Capone and motorcycles scattered

Rights to the west wind’s point blank accusations –

Right to an attorney’s rosy-fingered synergy; his

 

Wine-dark mattress in the court of luaus – all

For this.  A misophonic missionary’s cigarette, like

Burning books, saluted misdemeanors with a

Maverick namaste to calm itself. Missouri’s twain

Of meth lab dalliance and migrant Hamlets on

The lam created torrents of marked men; Oprah

And obstetric static promised Sumer is icumen in,

Historical emergencies and nowhere else to go.

 

Spooky action at a distance proves the gods

Are miserable with perfect pitch, but gothic

Pitchforks don’t inject themselves; the addict

Dilly-dallied. A small step for man, and giant

Jackalopes were choking on his guilt’s emissions,

Nummular as if the unexamined coin was not

Worth spending. Molly Brown was in the room

To baptize the mafia – their long, long way to the urn –

 

And the Chinook. A skinhead, no more beige

Than common kestrels, viewed the eighty-eight keys

Of standard people through stained glass impediments,

And Betsy Ross pledged her allegiance to a needle

Pulling thread: “The sky is deeper than our skin, the

Sea is less involved than kin.” A shot of whiskey

And a barbacoa quesadilla was the Rocinante and

Catch-22 that Norman Rockwell spoke for; Baghdad’s

 

Dewey Decimal System masquerading, clearly

And delicious. But the caterpillar’s calico derision

And complacency was chiding all the country’s

Values while the addict wrote a final note to sew a

V to La: Dear Mrs. Ross, your eyes are pierless as

The Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria in 1492, and

Deeper than the ocean blue. He said, “Our nuclei

Accumbens hold the condiment and victim’s

 

Condemnation equally created. True hypocrisy’s

The medium of will, my friend.” “And error’s intent,”

I added, as a thorny crow of cherry red flew by.

It turned into a strip of ticker tape that fluttered

Down onto my jam and read: Get high on Penny’s

Pharm. A mob of brick went up around a crib

Of endless bombing. Smokey the Bear packed Green

Bay into his thumb to grow mercurial and THC.

 

 V.

The sled dogs sought the apparition at the finish:

Surface of petroleum and cloudy, stationary

Petals. “Autumn in the hand is springtime in the

Feet,” the caterpillar commented. “The coliseum’s

Colicky. The caliphate’s lumbago is more details

For twilight, or seventh-inning stretch material –

Come and watch the race.” The Mississippi river

Flooded, and the sooty sled dogs bought the

 

Harm a farmhand stowed away. A silver lining

Was the race continued, past the Rockefeller

Ceroscape and acroluminescent labor unions,

Scrambled porn and Bunker Hill. Woman is

A voyage, Hell a permanent fatigue, a bumper

Sticker read, adhering to a tent in Hooverville

And flapper’s day-glo wit. A periwinkle

Twister tore through Oklahoma! St. Peter’s gate

 

Was pearly still, since summer in the head is

Winter in the heart. And Thomas Edison,

Discussing Karl’s lark with Charles Foster Kane,

Began: “Lacunae comedic as combustible

Carinas…” Orson added: “A regular assembly

Line for Rosebuds, Valley Forges, pioneers…”

A daisy-chain with penis pinions dropped by

In a hurricane; the autumn-time was tame with

 

Its particular tumescence. Cemented feet were

Under water’s watchful eye. Needless to say,

I pretended to be the Enola Gay and did loop-de-

Loops above the poverty line and racing fans;

Mascara in the sky. A knickerbocker Jersey devil

Told me, “Stop! The first amendment only

Guarantees your right to coded speech and state

Taboos.” Colossal tractors made the earth quake

 

Smoothing out its cowlick for the lumber. Tails of

Sled dogs wagged like Sunday at the smell of hasty

Pudding. The caterpillar’s calipers appeared, “To

Measure out John Henry’s path of least resistance, for

A gastronomical success!” Senile Gatling guns threw up

Their hands and cried Whoa Nellie! “America’s

Anemone,” he said, “is rooted in our daily chores and

Dismal operations.” Mt. St. Helens blew her top,

 

Instructed just to burn the other peak. Harry Carey

Called the race in coriaceous fashion. Jackie

Robinson’s papoose suspended animated haze to

Fix it in an ordinary phrase; orioles in a tamarisk

Or creole in silvery dread. And capitalists came

Connecting dots: a Wu-Tang lyric and John Williams

Score with tomahawk injunctions; brotherly

Betrothals or the broth of brothels: blizzards in a

 

Beautiful disgust. “Come and watch the race.

Reality is very disagreeable; a urinal for profits.

Cormorants know that harvest-time’s a talent

Show for osiers to judge. But what’s at stake –

Circadian while craters mark some holy nervous

Breakdown? Caterwauling craters: wombs to mock

The world.” The caterpillar’s callipygian botched

Apocalypse and Paul Revere were set adrift.

 

VI.

 

Intangible and truant, Charles Lindbergh’s

Sleigh bells jingled. Pilot fish escorting

Patty Wagstaff on her eagle to Area 51 were

Executing half-rolls, spins and firstborn sons.

At Kitty Hawk, the Goodyear Blimp was eating

Breadcrumb contrails; fattening for Betelgeuse,

That candy-coated oven. Monkey astronauts

Ejected Tweedledum in spirit: kidnapped

 

Pontius Pilate’s brother for to kiss the jungle.

And Groucho marked how Boeing’s arrow was:

“A sleek, unhurried vestment – tease tranquility

For sky; a sexually transmitted peace and

Iconography.” But Harpo didn’t care a lick and

Said, “This javelin will strike with a macabre

Rejuvenation.” Sally Ride and Sheryl Swoopes

Invited Rudolph’s sonic glow inside the Bell X-1

 

Till Shakespeare threw a UFO into the paddy

Wagon. The caterpillar’s calipers were under

Kite and key: “’This creature walks in the spring

And flies in the fall’ – Poor Lionheart said that!”

Amelia, her knack for almost anything, immediately

Landed on a griffin’s back. Chuck Yeager and

Rebecca Lobos eyed the moon: the dreamers’

Disc; ovarian aerie for the founding fathers’

 

Titillated howls. And Alfred E. Neuman’s wry,

Perfected negative culpability was parodied by

Me: “The moon is Earth’s technology.” But sugar

Cane eschewed its cape: the new Old Faithful

Rode upon Phoenician flames immaculate as

Flak to clouds. And Wilbur said to either Orville

Or Pat Summitt: “Airplanes wear a vulgar stare

Worth climbing out of breath.” The heir chimed in:

 

“That’s more profane than death, or Hindenburg’s

Propane.” The heir was plain, his error was

Humid: “The hyperboles that move the planets

Can’t attain the grand and honest style of

The plane.” The clammy clouds reflected all –

The golden, gated guilt; the ocean’s drowsy surface

And perfidious nerves; the floral noise and

Terminal resistance – to invent a super bolt.

 

The brothers Grimm took half-delight in Pet

Sounds, voyagers in Brian Wilson’s jingoistic,

Half-ironic sleigh bells. The Berlin Wall’s black

Box was buried by the Jackson 5 to the chagrin

Of hallelujahs; Jimmy Doolittle was accused

By incest of McCarthyism, but the sun still rose

To the sound of android hiccups on Mars. The ace

Balloonist put her finger in the buttery first

 

Cause and color-coded heaven. “I’d like to fly or be

A Kennedy,” the caterpillar stated. “But time

Is just a slow betrayal. That winged and singing

Eel is learning how to cry. The most content of

Characters are baby druthers: trilobite renditions

By James Naismith in the capital of Middle Mirth

Or Philadelphia.” The calipers grew fratricidal, buff

As Y2K; a mangled prime to stall the calibrated eve.

 

VII.

 

A blast of fortune swept across the plain:

A cavalry, perhaps, the men on headless horses

For the God of Laryngitis on his dreadful horse

(“A Trojan lozenge ought we send?” the chaplain,

Planted like a bloody glove, complained);

Bazooka Joe, whose horse forsook its horseman

For a mane of fire, was blameless if this horseward

Charging flame was chewy in Chewbacca’s name.

 

And overhead: a plane and men on Calvary;

A million old Perhaps that never die or get a

Spear stuck in their eye like Macaroni by a

Corleone. A noon as tranquil as delight in

Death was honey for the men to drink and

Have eternal fame. The stooges’ Moe was

Singing silky, meadow credos (“Self is pain and

Pleasure’s call for nothing”) while Goliath’s skull

 

Was crushed again by Larry David. Vocal cords

Were heaped with tribe and gore for men

To run around. And Halloween was cut by swords

To watch its airy substance close. “Give my foreskin

A Christian burial!” Isaac yelled, to scratch out words

His nonplussed death deserved. (His knowledge in

That convex war was self-inflicted.) “My calipers

Will outlive any selfless gallopers,”

 

The caterpillar, in a condom, coughed.

A superhuman sentiment and sea of slaughter

Clashed. A concupiscent cow skull and bouquet of

Stealth (an Aristotle hybrid crossed with Amistadt)

Failed to follow suit: our lesson on life lessening –

Like, Jealousy can stab you with a jellyfish – was

Clementine, the caterpillar’s cloak-and-dagger

Darling cloaca; his coffin-size (or “caliber”)

 

Was deemed irrelevant. The mutilated speech

Of Meriwether (“Silver snot in riven dreams,”

Per William) inspissated the past and sniper’s reach:

The hairy trees’ adagios provided screams

And dull chords in the childish night. The ruined idol

Of an idle skeptic, patiently with beams

To label all the etherized retreats and bridle

Murmurings of ice cream, planted regicidal

 

Forests near the rooks. An open-ended

Meteor, from cannons next to Rosa Parks

Oblivious to youth and trash, was not intended

For the kennel. “Stony grace recalls our barks

Preferred the face of stoic walls,” the splendid

Canine canonized. Yosemite and other arks

Were dented, tenderly. “A citadel of venison

Forsook Utopia’s kabuki renaissance,”

 

The man on fire offered Seward. A Semitic,

Fiercely ornamental dentist, punched in the

Falsetto, got the best of Hiawatha: “Envy

Is disorder’s enemy!” A schizophrenic

Bugle disagreed; its layman maker praised

The will of Earth as “terrible to face,

And to possess. For what is love: the lion’s

Honey; the reverse transcriptase of the heart?”

 

VIII.

 

The MREs will be alfalfa and omega-3s.

Ulysses Grant will scan the Gettysburg

Seascape for gumbo and the angel mariners. (A crease

Will sexually transmit itself.) An iceberg

Will be coming ‘round the mountain like a virgin

President (in driven reams). In Guam, the perfect storm

Of TV dinners and Pacific Ocean borborygmi

Will be fish, falafel, mysteries and Dulce et decorum

 

Est pro patria mori. The sea of granite’s oddest properties

Will rise and fall like eastern Humpty-Dumpties westerly; (ergo,

Ticonderoga and Eggs Benedict will be a thing). The Navy’s

Plainclothes striptease will regurg

-itate on the Secretary of Fate to play the King of Anorexia, then gorge

Herself on frozen yogurt. Half a quorum

On the half-shell unaborts the tugboat’s chug;

The chef uncooks the sea cow burger. Dulce et decorum

 

Est pro patria mori unescapes the gunboats’ ecstasies,

Unyelling, “Look me in the ironsides and say it!” Ungurg

-ling, the sandy light tossed overboard like salad days unties

The anchor from its basket, unshanghais the Winesburg

Seamen and their alligator landlords. Nuts unargue;

Unsing dirges for the android unflying too far from

The “gormless sun” (on solar-powered wings). Cargo

Unbecomes the flotsam; ancients ungrease Dulce et decorum

 

Est pro patria mori to unslide it from the submerged

Tepees. And to unaddress a dolphin and unlure him:

“The calories in a caterpillar? I’m not sure.” In purg

-atory, war untugs the herringbone from Dulce et decorum

Est pro patria mori and stapes from the incus. And The Promised

Band played on (the humblest showboat band) on Lake

Superior. Long Island’s synesthetic ports (‘Come for our views

Of the sound!’) stayed the cyborg’s titanium and water’s

 

Childhood reflections. Varsity dyspareunia (like a virgin’s

Melancholy, with its sharp and painted nails) afflicted

Clementine, and so she flicked the caterpillar like a

Planet with a grimmer default setting, or a booger.

“My lady of the kale and daily licking of the wounds…”

“But there are plenty more big-breasted weapons

In the sea,” I reassured him. War has rows of teeth

Deferred, and has to dream around the bloody impasse;

 

Doubting pain, our common tense to perfect form

Was jogged. The eyeless fish in Plato’s cave

Are singing: “Peacetime rest in breezy breasts

The earless men hear best…” The coral grave

Is lapping up the supernatural dock;

A holiday for sows in younger weather

Is ok’d from Dow Jones’ locker (as played

By Meryl Streep, whose own facilometer

 

Attenuates antennas in Atlantis, like barbaric

Aliens). Scarlet town’s sole android burns,

A double-you, with bushy rage; the sun

And its reflection argue which returns

The bluest eye. The ocean’s brackish insults

Breach for men (the treasure of all static cling)

To strive, to stake, to fry and not congeal like rooftops’

Calipers, up there to replicate barnacled yawps.

 

IX:

 

“This here confession’s the world’s oldest: scaphoid;

Appalachian,” Clementine began. “The road less travelled

Bisects too. Just as you didn’t begrudge the slug

Of double-helix slime and fame, or that ham-fisted

Fiddler on the roof for peeping while I bathed on

The O’Leary’s barn, do not renounce my Daisy Dukes

For teeming with their modest mysteries and prefects –

Am I some old-world convict or scorbutic hearse

 

With roadless travellers?” This gave the caterpillar

Paws. “Your gentle-antlered pleas and popliteal

Apologies are like a nosegay for the priest or stout Balboa’s

Sly Stallone: a grain of fault; I take it with a salted

Migraine.” Viscous silence flooded in from the sadistic

Sky, like masochistic quiet in the sophistry of sunfish.

“Those dilapidated loopholes you’d subpoena

To unravel their appeal – as if a glass of lemonade

 

Were not half-bitter as your biceps bulge.” “And yet

I see the ass half-full,” was his rejoinder; “taste

Your words and ask: is this the feces launched

By Fossey’s apes? A tonsil-hockey pox for you, and

Pax of cigarettes! Go buy a cat, or else square root

It; a thrice-thriving man would do you good! You sought

A sunrise southerly and crises, but the company

Of cheaters claimed your balcony for gulls to judge.”

 

“Fidelity? With yours like a ham radio’s! Double

Crossing in your mask of roses!” “Spy no more;

Deception rarely is the bearer of bad news”:

The caterpillar lobbed chalcedony incognito at

Her solar plexus, and Chicago’s forelimbs cramped.

“The rhetoric of nether bells, distributing

The gumption of your liberty: your parallactic

Self-reliance limned your family tree a ring

 

Unspoiled: a sawyer’s; clawed by water’s wandering

And watchers.” Ivy League and saber-toothed, the cataplectic

Caterpillar’s retort neither confirmed nor denied a thing.

The window’s predatory lending, offering

Tomorrow as immortal – or, the John Cage tick-tock

Of self-ambience – cast its broken vote to play the Ringling

Brother’s lead: the rose and buyer’s bleeding wing;

Aloof in residue of time’s desired tactic;

 

Water’s gated scandal. “Not another clapper-tingling

Belle,” the caterpillar catapulted, furthering

Rhodoras’ morning rhapsodies and hectic

Rhinorrhea. “The grass growing on your gringo

Back, refracting nanosecond phrases – brandishing

A foghorn’s genitalia, if you will – is chiropractic

As the day is long”: the clam-in-tide: this misattributing

A flame to infamy’s tight-fit. A cowbell’s ring

 

Atoned. “The meretricious Tully Monster partly read

The sea, and found a Mariana trench to moor in

And to die”: the caterpillar climbed a coreopsis

To continue: “Lovers part the sea of eyes – its false

Contempt for contemplating red – and to our hearts

A ray that spills crepuscular delay; selenium,

At daybreak, pours into your porcelain aye. With

Perfect merits meeting, come; let’s to our wedding rise.”

X:

The current stripped itself to bare essentials. 

“Simplify your wounds,” the paranymph advised

The caterpillar; “cancelling a passion seven- 

Billion strong is a tall order.” Golden lures were followed, 

Paramount to fill the golden role with hemolymph.

The stubbled bafflement of bachelors – seminal

Achievement of the furless – vexed the Seminole

Ideas of order, and the right to bear a sentinel

 

Collapsed behind a curtain. Simplify: that hymeneal

Vendetta’s coriander garnishing support

Like golden fleas; a panoramic fellow.

“Everyone’s accordion is needed!” cried the even-

Tempered monotones, pervading the Sven 

-gali air. A side-armed, sidereal sic semper

Tyrannis stumbled inside. The caterpillar bellowed

Wall Street Juvenal opinions: “Rara avis elements

 

Be damned! I am E. coli’s hummus!” Counseling

Solicited maneuvers to out-Heimlich

Summer solstice, née the screen of spring. La Bamba; schemes

Ischemic in the caterpillar’s capillaries: knaves

To all coincidence and not coin-operated. “Sappy knife, 

Happy strife,” the Tarot Card suggested, lemon-scented

As a séance. “Reeks of rotted care. You know, the center of 

The sun is only new”: Copernican and pillowy,

 

His theory’s golden lyre and billion strings were mellowing

His native vanity. “Geology of ego; Zeno’s limp

Along the road to mucus… If the bicentennial’s

Flâneur had squatted near Ponce de León’s manure – or heaven’s –

Gateways to the arch above would close.” The good Mer-Martian’s

Birefringent sea, meanwhile, was not the viceroy

Janus, given suffrage, would have chosen to obey:

Libido’s cauldron; Rip Van Winkle’s hollow

 

Toil in ammonic littorals. Golden pairs of summa cum

Laude guesses came regarding hormone levels,

Whereabouts; “A wedding is the morning’s due!” “But evenings

Sue.” “My love and destiny: inconsequential

Language-games to tangle up with God’s piano and

A rifle:” self-devised in hemolymph, the caterpillar

Followed seven calendars that, without representation,

Gilded seminal parameters and the essential naughtiness

 

Of archers.  Ticket stubs to raffle a priori

Gossip – pledges rigged to go a-maying – feeling sorry

Gingerly for the proceedings, offered to condole

With an E Pluribus Unum and lysergic sorry,

Paramilitary-style. Fletcherizing the event,

The caterpillar climbed the Chrysler Building, sorry

To see Clementine’s art deco code in 57 varieties

Of morsel. And with bacchanalian aplomb, no sorry

 

Found a way to catch a falling fury taxed with 3/4s

Apple-green emotion. Coward of Nantucket, feeling sorry,

I began to dream of inguinal retreats and sing:

“A penny savior pennies spurn; a splenic spring,

With nuptials on the fritz, is lobbying for truth:

A concrete love’s well-lighted start; the facts of youth.”

From a lachrymose blind spot, Clementine came near,

Denying sex a Führer like the act was laissez-faire.

 

XI:

“Take the seat of meaning”: Klementine was changed;

“Your child to the dark flower came, and eager to wheeze.”

And Frank Lloyd wrote a river into a babbling tower

Blonde with bedtime’s blood and urinating maize.

“A piscine wager: put on childish wings; decline the royal

Invite of esteem without a steamboat close behind.”

A teething gnosis bled inside a lamb’s head, red

As toilet water fed, as if a serpent shed it, what the C had

 

Said to be a K instead. To get behind her satin, fowl-

Mouthed guidance, first I had to ask: “Why’d you kill

The caterpillar?” “Sorry, poetry is room to make

A moor,” Jake Sheff replied. It stunned; to mock Beringia

A Sesame Street opened. (First, a plethora of sylvan

Platitudes.) A Franklin stove enables sticks to shower

Upward too; despondent fish, amuck with stones and Esau,

Cried, “The dark flower ceded the Amen just east of  

 

Burden; go!” But Klem said that was, “cracking wise and up

In all directions. Neighboring redemption, past

The android’s reach or stanchion and all lethal inspection, is

The caterpillar’s door. And now the train from Ditto, heading

For the land of Dodo, comes believing me a Dido standing

On the shore.” Her cadence stopped the waves from

Landing on the shore; four and seven score. And frankly,

Nothing gave a dam; to Waterloo and through, our preachy

 

Mansion stood. Our shucked empiricism, hirsute with

Happiness, confabulated: “Yonder stands your hallux

Off hallucinating me!” Upon the dune of loony and denuded

Doom, an actor – brokering electric shares and firing squids –

Broke character into a chariot for chartering Paul Bunyon’s

Flaxen ox above Iscariot. “The dial laid is twice repaid

In diaper money,” spoke the earlier catastrophe; “The horror

Of baby loins!” Accused of hoarding bloody cranebills

 

In her horde of hearts, a dowager got ginseng stuck

With jury duty. “Years that never listen; Lent was given

Countess ears…” A ukulele’s fumarole relayed the verdict:

“Glut on lust: this slut for guilt, her slit of silt and lake of

Silk to slake the skeleton ilk; it slights the saint and serial

Surpriser – sunrise ain’t kind. Impeach this Georgian!

Slivers of slime; a diadem of scorpions and flag on her lapel!”

“Pythagorean, populist papillae; no papillon or pedagogish

 

Vision quest. For who, in honest camouflage, seeks

Phony privacy?” “The novelist and mantis,” I replied, and Klem

Said I was close.  “C’mon, we’re here to wake a sleeping

Giant.” Sequoia trees for Howard’s raft were screaming,

“Down with Howard Taft!” “In God we strut and tread

On no one, in order to form a more perfect bunion,”

Dividing minutemen to kill the time, she joked and joked.

With livestock close behind, on travertine no mason

 

Whistled Dixie near, my genome’s tethered gnat

And gnome betrayed how out of scope I was: I shat

Myself. “This lily-white untouchability confounds you?

This rehearsal for your death’s reversal?” At that,

She pardoned me from our jejune calamity

Like antsy oak leaves by a Cuban missionary. She

Had reconciled differences with daylight-saving’s

Coalition; her canary beak inherited the free.

 

XII:

 

O say can you – to see or not to see –

Believe this caterpillar’s cuckoo shell

Is other people? Crooners unusual;

A song of love no scythe can see, yet free

Of anonymity. Calliope

Of nations, shepherding, to clutch a heel,

The oral past; for what fair youth drive steel?

“To contradict my flesh and multiply

 

The eerie eye’s lacustrine promises

Of nothing else to want.” A Clovis point,

For dripping paint, was utilized; and jazz

Was all that coveted that Alcatraz

Of dazzling Alas. The bishop’s joint:

Diagonal with unbelief; Gee-whiz

Of new colostrum: agony and diet.

“What isn’t born that ages well; is not

 

For love and not for hell?” The west is quiet;

A Show-me Static front. A polyglot

Reviewed the valley’s Hebrew mildew, got

The weavers’ wives involved: a camel’s hair

Was thread with gossamer nostalgia; pot

Was melted into top. “There’s nothing here

To measure or emancipate,” the care

Of Cheyenne, charity and yarrow; “Plow

 

The Porlock keystone; tepid turnpike! Spare

The wigwam’s rocky peak!“ The tubas bow –

“Renew the wine and slow the cotton gin.

Renew the wine and slow the cotton gin.

Two pockets too notorious, I turn

‘Em out again.” A baker’s dozen of

Commandments form the yeast the beatniks burn,

To batter out the weird and banter’s love.

 

To pull a word from stone – Corinthian

Etudes; a bindi’s crimson – I had wrapped

The caterpillar in Olympian

Material, as the revolution’s rapt

Approval told me to. No basin raped

The bison, superseding Motown, grit

And trigonometry. No word escaped

The Alamo: no Valentine or writ;

 

High noun (a person-plinking thing), or verb

(The soul of brevity). And to disturb 

A leather-jacketed biped: I greet

At the beginning – blink, therefore I damn –

The caterpillar’s merry-go and scam.

His firework the foul-tail’s fart, a groatsy-

Farce; subprime Butterball, at best! To start,

This temple surely isn’t serious; art

 

Monopolized the will to live to grace

The land with nothing true and beauty? Meat

And time’s enamel ceased to be when Turing

Tested ‘The truest nation is the most foreign’;

The caterpillar, tame and adamant,

Was called to action: wings of reason, moved

By passion paired with eights and aces, proved

The lady of dark laurel’s pilgrim mate.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jake Sheff is a pediatrician in Oregon and a veteran of the US Air Force. He’s married with a daughter and a whole lot of pets. Poems of Jake’s are in Radius, The Ekphrastic Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Cossack Review and elsewhere. He won 1st place in the 2017 SFPA speculative poetry contest and a Laureate’s Choice prize in the 2019 Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest. Past poems and short stories have been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology and the Pushcart Prize. He’s also published translations of poetry and reviews of translated poetry collections. His chapbook is “Looting Versailles” (Alabaster Leaves Publishing). A full-length collection of formal poetry, “A Kiss to Betray the Universe,” is available from White Violet Press.

THIS LAND IS NOT AN HABITAT FOR US by Enobong Ernest

THIS LAND IS NOT AN HABITAT FOR US by Enobong Ernest

action active activity adult

THIS LAND IS NOT AN HABITAT FOR US

by Enobong Ernest

in this dream

a family bends down

to

search for the body of their father

among the remains

of bomb blast

a new orphan is

soaked

in the colour of a loved one’s blood

i wake up, pleading God’s son’s blood

tv is on. newscaster is

doing mortality count

i’m reaching

for the remote. i’m

pleading more blood. compatriot,

don’t read this poem. you’ve seen it before

        after bloodshed,

a national anthem instrumental

filters

out of father’s radio     then

president reads speech

on rice pyramid

        every time i leave my house

i think of masked men & ransom

of detonation & bullets

of psalms 91 & mother

        let my

countryman open his mouth & say

that he has not incised

the name of the Lord

on his forehead

that his lungs do not feel

like a pair of explosives

       let heaven send a dove here

& see if it will perch

& see if it will peck

an olive branch

in a nutshell:

we squeeze our lives into your palms, Elohim

keep it for us.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Enobong Ernest Enobong is a Nigerian poet and award-winning essayist. His poems are mostly centred on memories, psycho-social experience, humanity, Black, Africanism, and mythology. He is a Best of the Net Nominee of Arts Lounge Magazine (2021). His poem featured in the 2021 SprinNG Afro-Eros anthology To Borrow Screams from the Atmosphere. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in Praxis Magazine, Brittle Paper, Ghost City Press, The Shallow Tales Review, Arts Lounge, Acorn Haiku Journal, African Writer Magazine, Kalahari Review, Wales Haiku Journal, & elsewhere. He is a staunch believer in the power of memories, the formative years of children and the pro-African gospel of Professor P.L.O. Lumumba of Kenya. He writes from Lagos and is currently a law student at the University of Lagos, Akoka.

THE RIVER’S ORDEALS by Fadairo Tesleem

THE RIVER’S ORDEALS by Fadairo Tesleem

sorrowful black woman crying in light room

THE RIVER’S ORDEALS

by Fadairo Tesleem

For the first time, father told me of

the grief that discolored our walls. How

a river of aggressive velocity swallowed

his beloved. But, tell me, how do I approach

a river & fight it for eating up my mother’s feet

when it isn’t the same water that was there yesterday?

 

Since then, I’d visit river Asa,

sit at its temperamental area &

place my ears across the

river & against its bank, awaiting

mother to speak to me in any form; as a

stormy wave, as a fish, or a mermaid.

I want to kneel beside my

mother’s grave, rearrange the pebbles on it,

like every motherless boy would do.

But, this is me, visiting & revisiting

river Asa every night, beseeching each

wave to vomit my mother’s remnant.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Fadairo Tesleem is a young Nigerian poet from Ilorin, Kwara state. He is a teacher, a poetry coach and a literary critic. Tesleem is a final year student of “Kamal school of Arabic & Islamic studies” Ilorin, Kwara state. He is a member of Hill-Tip creative art foundation, Kwara state branch, and the “Association Of Nigerian Authors” ANA, Osun state branch.

His poems are published or forthcoming in Fiery scribe review, Pangolin Review, Queer Toronto literary magazine, Arts lounge, Best of Africa, Blue Minaret, Down in the dirt, Ninshãr arts, Blue pepper, Upwrite magazine, Inverse journal, Eremite poetry & a host of other publications. 

He tweets @Olakunle.

HOW TO MOUTH BROKEN PSALMS IN AN EARTHQUAKE by Wisdom Adediji

HOW TO MOUTH BROKEN PSALMS IN AN EARTHQUAKE by Wisdom Adediji

people looking at wrecked buildings

HOW TO MOUTH BROKEN PSALMS IN AN EARTHQUAKE

by Wisdom Adediji

1

It’s okay to let go. to spread your palms over the clitoris of your shadow

& mouth your fears like the incarnation of a broken spirit.

 

2

You danced your lips to your heartbeat hitting your ribcage,

as the sand collects imprints from your vigorous foot.

you’re scared.   scared of why the earth have to open its mouth while sleeping,

scared of the tremors escaping its snore,

through the epicentre. the sock waves. fires bashing out of its yawn.  

The earth seems like a bouncing castle pricked at its brim.

Before you’re eyes, everything becomes Sodom

everywhere becomes Gomorrah,

you stand still. shocked. like a bag of dry bones,

as water balls skate down your cheeks,

you weep, weep, weep….

but it’s nothing.    Jesus also wept….

 

3

You remember your teacher. geography teacher.

what he told you about earthquakes,

he said one day, the earth will yawn

& gulp bodies, & crave souls, & spit fire as sputum,

& he too will become a labyrinth,

& many others will be like unexcavated artifacts,

forgotten inside the earth’s belly

 

4

& you too will tend to survive,

you’ll stop running around. fearing.

You’ll flee away from walls. from poles. from trees. from holes. bridges. tunnels.

& hold your ground. Cat yourself under the wooden cabinet,

or the strong ancient table in your room.

now, all you have to do is breathe. press the red button on your phone,

& chew psalm 23. once again, breathe    breathe    breathe    &    breathe…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Wisdom Adediji is a genre-bending writer from the city of Ibadan, Nigeria. His works have appeared or forthcoming on Oneblackboylikethatreview, Arcuute, World voices magazine, Arts lounge and elsewhere. He is currently studying geography at the University of Ibadan and writes from there. Meet him on Instagram @wisdomadediji7.

THE CLEANSING by Taiwo Odesanya

THE CLEANSING by Taiwo Odesanya

man touching back of the head with hands

THE CLEANSING

by Taiwo Odesanya

Say, frustration is the seed mothering these 

Bullets the earth is puffing,

Say, it is the gun flooding this heat, 

These droughts, these storms, 

These insects, these wildfires, 

These diseases,

Say, humans have pushed the earth to the wall, 

Forcing her to taste her blood,

Say, humans have harvested earth’s tears like fruits,

And punctured it with inhuman activities,

Say, the earth warned and warned, 

But humans’ 

Inhumanity clothed their ears like a river over a land,

Now that frustration is pushing these bullets from earth’s hands, 

Many of them are trying to recede into shadows?  

Now that the earth is

Hatching climate change and her consequences as eggs, 

Some are hiding behind shields? 

Some are passing the burdens to others? 

Tell me this cross will rollover,

Tell me, 

Tell me the earth will cleanse this frustration and grow grace. 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Taiwo Oluseye Odesanya is a Nigerian Poet, Non-fiction writer, Blogger, and History enthusiast. He is a Computer Information Systems graduate from Middlesex University London with a deep passion for writing. Taiwo calls writing his first love and hopes to write something “groundbreaking” about remarkable events from the past because of his undying love for history.

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