Detail from Henri Rousseau, The Repast of the Lion, 1907. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of Sam A. Lewisohn.


sing and sing till your voice is a bullet
you are waiting inside
your father’s shadow

take your hands beyond
the starlight

perhaps it is the lullabies
of sheet mistaking you
for a pillow

only that there is no water in the river

and fire too is a tongue
waiting to be caressed to live

you can’t have the world
to yourself
maybe you should
give yourself to the world

your legs on the floor:
like this and like that
your tongue mistaking blood
for wine

your voice is shawled
with a magnifying glass 

you will open your wounds
and make them a garden
& explain to the wind
the origin of pain

Wale Ayinla

Wale Ayinla is a Nigerian poet, essayist, and editor. He is a Best of the Net and Best New Poets Award nominee, and his works appear on Palette Poetry, Connotations Press, Waccamaw, and elsewhere.