what is the boy who drags his solitudes outdoors by Peter Akinlabi

(for yomi ogunsanya)

what is the boy who drags his solitudes outdoors,
setting up a garden in a skeined place, where he skims
books in proximate images.

he imagines, there, in a memory a little bit different,
he might unlearn the swaddling language of early traumas,
and walk the knotted shadows to light.

in dreams, he often returns to pain in a manner of a woodpecker,
mining abstractions in hollows of an ensnaring tree,
seeking to remake the history

of his body’s multiple significations. Books are kind to him,
proving a giving demiurge, he waits in their signs,
juggling time in a continent pattern,

a moveable form that may fit in a child’s grip. He imagines many ways
of resisting clarity’s failure, prizing the hands of dog-haired doggerels,
wresting words from the heads of dead strangers.

He’ll earn his kenosis in degrees, having looked too deep
in the great skein of artifice, the orbit of imagination
where he may lose his ways but never get lost, again.




Peter Akinlabi holds a BA and MA in English and Literary Studies. HIs poem, To a Poet Activist, was runner up in the 2001 Okigbo Poetry Prize, University of Ibadan and in 2009, his poem, Moving, won the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition in the United Kingdom. He was shortlisted for the inaugural Brunel African Poetry Prize in 2013. His poetry chapbook, A Pagan Place, edited by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani was published in the 2015 New Generation African Poets series.

1 Comment
  1. This is a lovely poem.

    It feels good to know it is for someone very special to me.

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