I am the swallow, after the poem has swallowed

Morsels of time to sprout seasons; I am the season

Of a million swallows, like a night in heaven

After the poem has dawned


Faint resolutions stalk the heart;

As shrivelled earth on cockerel wings;

I do fathom, when the letters flap;

Flowers dance beyond a mind’s storm:

After the poem, I pick flowers and storms.




for Ami


In your laughter, heavens linger

And I wonder if the rainbows quiver

On your voice’s tenderness—as I—

As hair—as all the world that spins on your tongue

When shards of your presence touch me here,

Shredded in thunders. In your laughter,

Paths resonate, a season desires veneration

In dreams, and all epiphanies of a brittle sky

Unfetter the prisoned heart—and glow…

But not from any other but itself

Upon the hour of immolation…


Or was it the hour of revelation

At those sunlight notes who in their long

Jolly jump make radiant rainbow arcs

Beyond the grief of lone horizons?

Ami, your laughter is freedom—a garland ray—

Honey filament for the panting lobe

To the famished skies by the west—

But will you not first bestow to me

As true the rude cloud must eavesdrop

The stillness of even your song?


In your laughter, the noon succumbs,

And fantasies flutter like a nest of transcendent birds

Coursing to air-roots, to sudden plunges

Of the heart in sugar seams and melodic veins;

Eternities dance in your laughter, Ami—as air—

They dance—as that defiance of sand—

As the desire of wind—in instant passion—

As the courage of fire…


I know your laughter, Ami

I know your laughter—

O I know your laughter, like the hurricanes

Of my midnight skull, when bush-spirits

Caterwaul around my head.


I know your laughter

Like the tickle beneath my scalp, like

The wandering manuscript beneath my desk, or that

Primordial rein of the telephone ballad

In quiet recesses of my fear…


In your laughter, my solitude is a silence

In your laughter, my silence is a story





Where deity fingers

Knead three naked breasts

On a market tryst


Embers of the night dance

Prophets of the ocean dance

Somnambulist streams dance


Where Ayétòrò meets

The world behind a scattered tribe

And manic shore, ancient froth…


Shadows of the lame dance

Rattles of the blind dance

Meandering gods dance


Where harvest stories

Stage a heavy tread of sand

For a gourd of mountain dew


Wraiths of the sky dance

Visions of the road dance

Sojourning hills dance


Where Ayétòrò grounds

Her hips against the shoulders

Of a universe inebriated


Moons dance

Moons dance

Moons dance



Oyin Oludipe was a judge for the 2015 Green Author Prize, a literary award for young unpublished poets in Nigeria. His poems have appeared in national and international journals like The Bombay Review, Dissident Voice, The Kalahari Review, Sankofa Magazine, The Provo Canyon Review, and Sentinel Literary Quarterly: The Magazine of World Literature. Oyin is the Nonfiction Editor of EXPOUND: A Magazine of Arts and Aesthetics.