UNDERGROUND VOICES: POETRY - 01/2012

TIMOTHY OGENE

When Weed Whispers, She sleeps

Her whole body shivered in the cold harmattan breeze
–like tender bamboo frightened by the monsoon–
but managed to support
a head populated by graying hair receding against time.

In a manner not common to beginners,
she wrapped the pile of weed
in a blank sheet as clean as addiction,
expertly scratched a match
and
lit the white wrap

dangling on the edge of her lips;
her lips darkened by smoke
like a chimney in a rundown restaurant,
in this monstrous metropolis of men, beasts and burden –
Lagos.

She drew smoke like strength,
exhaled a cloud.
Her smile stood aloof and off balance;
A facial disconnect from reality.

Her reality floats outside flesh against gravity,
against society, against logic.
Her vision blurs, forcing her to squint in
the cloud she’s made.

In every ring blown,
she sees birds, black and cheerful.
The moon bows.
she vows to stop when the sun ceases to rise.

Weakened by the weight of weed,
she lies flat against the sidewalk
blinking at the constellation of bodies trudging, stumbling, streaming
in all directions;
in no direction like worms in a puddle of salt water.


Silhouette and Shadow

The silhouette spoke to the wall,
stretched its hands
and offered money –
maybe a wrap of marijuana –

The shadow stooped to unzip
the silhouette’s fly –
the darkness thickened around them.

The street ahead is empty.
Window lamps squint to see the dancing strangers.
Too late!
It was over before they could blink
a bit of meaning from the show.

Without notice, a disorienting flashlight
tore through the darkness.

The shadow pulls down her mini-skirt,
frantically fled the scene in the opposite direction –
away from the light.

The silhouette lights a cigarette,
zips up and walks towards the light.

They meet halfway,
catch the air in crisp salute,
shake hands and
dissolve into the night.

The shadow turns around to catch a glimpse
of
the receding figures.
She heard wild laughter
and
two cigarette lights glowing dimly,
fading away like her pride.


Street Sisters

Strangers walk in and out
wasting her pride in quick succession
in exchange for quick cash

just enough to build pain and shame
overflowing
ready to burst but controlled
by a streak of hope
one day it will be over

That day never comes
but constantly dangles
in the horizon like a chandelier

To her mom
she has a job and
wires enough cash to pay the rent.


Timothy Ogene's poems have appeared in literary kicks, Ovi Magazine, the Daily Observer, Haggard & Halloo and are forthcoming in Subtletea. When he is not traveling, he blogs at http://slitdrum.tumblr.com. He was born and raised in Nigeria. He has written for Dekeyser & Friends Magazine, Reading Bridges, and Successpills.







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