a road’s tale

the road is a riddle with a thousand answers
                                                                  —Niyi Osundare

the road is one trickster of an angel
divining destinies at a deserted holy-trinity round:
to dawn’s hope a path
to noon’s heated light another
and the last, to night’s final cry – silence

when i wake up in the morning
the road lies ahead of me in wait
full of prayers – answerable and unanswerable
when i look out of midday’s window
pensive, the road waits – patiently like a vulture
its big bald head narrowing into a tail
and at the close of day
the road stretches still

than the shadow at dusk
when i sleep, the road remains, a reminder
of all the miles i skipped in daylight – kánàkò
which willy-nilly i must now walk in dream
and yes, many a time
i walk these miles without assurance of arrival
since at every known destination
the road stretches still – borderless like nature

the road, yes, the road
the road stretches in front of me like nature
i walk it without knowing where or when i shall arrive …


greenwich village

at greenwich village
a soul searches for the magic
that is the miracle of this place

at cafe wha?
ginsberg’s hysterical angels
one and the same with their hallucinogens
sing of a generation of madness.
their voices, more sonorous
than their individual sadness
tell of the ruse of progress.

in a subterranean room in marlton house
a river’s picture hangs
on a stony wall – hudson’s,
its face a shade of blue
but this too is memory.

in the centre of the room
a makeshift tower stands a pendulum clock.
like havisham’s.
dead. silent. dead.
stuck at noon, angelus time.

here kerouac’s poets
tick-talk light life git drunk
lsd in a lazy afternoon
and holding their tristessa
the road in front of them
they chant in unison:

the story of the megalopolis
is like that of megalomania
it’s in the saying
that one says nothing at all
and it’s in the doing
that one ends up doing nothing after all.

at greenwich village, the world’s bitter end
a soul searches
for the breath of buddha
that gave the beats their bass …


the past is always a present tense

i have crossed many roads
to the other side of life
only to find that every life’s road
leads to another life’s crossroads

and waiting at this intersection
i have wondered to myself
how what they say of the past
as an ephemeral smell of liquor
isn’t true for me
how the history of things – done and undone
paces so loudly the stairway of my mind
branded boldly like bladed scars on my body
and how at this hour
i stand only as a leaflet of memory
wandering at the mercy of the wind

i have crossed many roads
to life’s other side
only to find on arrival
that every road is a crossroads is a crossroads
and that the past – always present
is where they all meet …

tosin gbogi is the author of the tongues of a shattered s-k-y. His new poetry volume, locomotifs and other songs, will be published in 2018 by Winepress.



Cover photo credit: Matthew X. Kiernan