Romeo Oriogun
A Brief History of Becoming

                      joy is never in our power and pleasure often is.

                       C.S. Lewis


I wonder who created the house

           where the men

now run wild

                  There the tables are running

over         no one says come in


the door taken off its hinges

is weighed down by bottles of gin


   hidden in a corner of the room

           a man attempts to write a poem

in the terror of himself is an animal

                                            eating all the voices echoing in a gorge


     the bush fire is burning down one farm after another

and no one is home


        the anguish they ran from is the one within them


There in the house with no roof    the guardian spirits wept

and went out

                 to find another village to pass the night  

                                      the drought is everywhere

no one hides from water


  the poet writes         I am always inheriting the fear of all that is lost


the sweet soprano of a widow      the dying breath of a lamb


the morning swoops in     the vultures     always the vulture


comes in and waits        the poet’s duty is to wait too


what god did we offend        at the end of mourning


we did not take off the black cloth

       we waited for the sky     we waited for the women dancing

to the blackened day


there in the house where the dog licking his paw

on a hot day ran into hiding          the men will come out 

and wait      the rumble getting louder and louder


and then it will drop

the men will jump into air and join the women

to sing


  our joy is a memory bird

digging the shallowness of our hearts 

digging quickly to find the source of our doubts

something rootless

a ghost it is molding

into a burning effigy   






Found In Volume 48, No. 06
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Romeo Oriogun
About the Author
Romeo Oriogun is the author of The Origin of Butterflies, selected by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani for the APBF New-Generation African Poets Chapbook Series. His debut poetry collection, Sacrament of Bodies, will be published by African Poetry Book Fund in the spring of 2020. He currently lives in Iowa where he is an MFA candidate for poetry at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.