Romeo Oriogun, An Empty Street

Someone placed a map on my heart
and said: too much space here.

When I think of hearts, I think of houses,
the skin of walls during empty moments,
playground of old ghosts.
When I think of space, I think of men
holding empty books at the end of their life.

A man in an old uniform is shooting men
from his dream.

This is what movies are made of, but this is real.

I swear, I’ve been there, I have seen the gun go off,

I have embraced the bullet and tasted blood on my tongue.

Down the street a man is running to a river,
a mouth is saying, water.

The radio is saying, come out.

This is why I came here,
to be just another shadow,
another voice wandering round and round empty streets.

Tonight there’s another mistake waiting to happen,
two girls will love loudly, listen, listen, listen to their voice breaking the peace of water
as men pour fire inside their bones
and break them into stars dying in a dark sky.

The street is empty save a cat, a lady in a red dress
a boy, a lamp and me, from an empty sky
music descends as a dove and we dance
in puddles till we become a blur of madness
and all my mouth could say is water. Water. Water.

as a body exit the night in a furnace,
as angels fold the cry of burning girls
within their hearts and resurrect in red petals
in the heart of a girl learning to love
her wild self.

First published on Afridiaspora.

Romeo Oriogun’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming on Kalahari Review, African Writer, Brittle Paper, EGC Blog, amongst others. His Chapbook “Burnt Men” is available for download on Praxis. He lives and writes in Ikare-Akoko, a sleepy town in Western Nigeria.