Olúwádáre Pópóọla

Olúwádáre Pópóọla (b. 2001) is a Nigerian poet and sports journalist. Raised in Ibadan and Abeokuta where he is studying for a degree in microbiology, his works have been featured or are forthcoming in Glass, Palette Poetry, The SHORE, Barren Magazine, Jalada Africa, Icefloe, Lumiere Review, angs(t)zine, perhappened, among others and anthologized in the CTC Collective and LUMIN. He is a 2020 Best of Net nominee and while his works explore themes of identity, belonging, detachment, family and country, he is currently working on his first chapbook. Follow him @ayokunmiasher.

future tense

the eye more times than often/is a gun
is the skin/is the heart
is the mouth/holding cleft-shaped wounds
dangling loosely/at the back of throats
those wounds we live for
& keep like a laurel
dab in spit
& take to mean/tomorrow

other mouths

& what is a wound       but another mouth on the body
at two, i dragged boiling water off fire
& the scald of it was a mouth
the first time i washed alcohol stains off my father’s clothes
i washed hard till my hands peeled
& this was a mouth
at seven, street urchins left a cutlass gash
in my knee & it was a mouth
at nine, i was hit by a car
& was left with nothing but a mouth as large as the eye
once, my brother went
& broke his head on flush wood edge
the white in his edge showed & this was my mouth
cancer killed my uncle  & it was a mouth
my father has no job
& it is my mouth
twenty *koboko lashes from my father
& they were all mouths
i once cut my tongue at its tip
my buds lost stimuli for sweetness & it was a whole new mouth
& my first pimple
& the stab wound i hid from sight
is still a mouth, is still my body
i am still a thousand confessions

*koboko – a long flexible whip made of cow skin or horse tail

escape mechanism

the day folds its petals in a shroud of black
& i grow into a wound
of surface, of pigment, of skin
of a map somewhere
untying the tight braces of my hunger
my indentations fully void of attitude
in the mouth of the law
of the land
as a blxck boy
i have been taught that i am an occurrence
& where i occurred is where i occurred
& not where i belong
blame governs me
feigning it doesn’t is the closest i’ve yet come to affection
i keep my hands
my hand, my end, my hard, my hands
my grandfather’s large indigo-stained hands
in a lag of hope
& if he says to me in Yoruba
you’re looking for borders, where is your lamp?
i will offer him the dark
i will slip into it & i will dream dreams
at least in the stupid dreams
all of the men found in me
will build a new country
on the dead triggers of my eye