Five Poems by Kehinde Badiru

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Apr 16 · 5 min read

The Love found on the shores of Lagos Lagoon

As waves
dash in rhythms,
The petal pale sky appears
farther, empty / on both sides.
Pillars crest upon the shore,
portions of weed / gather benignly.
Two lovers are over the edge —
Connected by a kiss, separated
by a covet.

Canoes form
straight
lines,
under the bridge of faint arms.
Whereas, this is how free we could
cherish the love found on the shores of Lagos Lagoon.

In My Father’s House We Hunt for Little Fragments

Dad cleaned the house
the previous week,
as he would
whenever
he wants to hunt
for little
fragments.

I saw some
of my old books —
old as their scarred covers had appeared.
& Dad saw the small sized bed I had slept on
as a baby. He showed it to me / I laughed, I cried
and clutched it to myself / but he wouldn’t
let me keep it.

The memory
was haunting — How does a father handle
grief
when the world
moves on: “Men shouldn’t cry”. The memory
was haunting, to be reminded / I was hunting for
little fragments in this bed. I mean the ones / which connects us.
Father burnt the bed; I took a picture of it
before he did so I wouldn’t lose my Little Angel /
for a second time. If I frame the picture
in the nearer future, it’s because
I want to see how / she watches over me from
there down here, where I am in search of meaning.

Crush, Jazzhole, Lagos … After Jan-Henry Gray

Seeing the movie was easier
than watching her look at me
while I gave a review, knowing
I can’t hold her like a vinyl.
I spoke in the finest
English I’ve ever spoken —
intonation, bouncing right well.
The look
On her eyes says, I’m not from
here
. & I’m taken.
Stupid me, my heart melted,
I turned the knob
of my emotion on the
highest notes.
It’s easy
to
fall
in love
when
she’s not with
a man, who
watches me talk
about a favourite
movie his girl also loves.
She had a natural dreadlock. She’s not like
the cinema girls —
the ones I saw
that movie with, last week,
at Pen Cinema with that hair attachment
my friend thought was funny.
It’s easy
to not
fall
in love when I know
I will not read poems
for this crush, for her,
talking about hip culture
and smooth jazz; knowing
I will not remember the
fragrance of the perfume on her
turtleneck and the colour
I swore to forever paint
our love with, until morning,
if it happened
outside Jazzhole.

Self Portrait as That Girl on a Piece of Paper

I once saw a girl illustrated
on an
abandoned piece of paper.

Too fragile, in it,
she laughs. But when she cries,
on the next page,
each tear stretches like the rubber bands
that remind me of nuptial ties.

She catches her dreams,
closer to the emotional stitch
on the window.

Nothing is hard to find in self-portrait.
It’s easy, in that something breaks in you.
That girl on a piece of paper
sits with me on the last pages
of tomorrow’s unknown.

On her inside and outside,
On each leaflet I turn to, she reminds
me to autograph her name on marbles.

Reminds me that, together, we once listened to how
trees call out our name.

When Home is All You Have

This is why I never leave home. Nothing remains. My daughter barely understands the main reason why I never leave home but she understands why I have to leave the laptop PC on, even into midnight — I busy myself starring, going back and forth on the last pictures which became the lasting memory of her mother, I, us as a family. She is homeschooled, shops for her favorite toys on Jumia, and books on Amazon which we end up reading together, sometimes, over careless arguments on authors’ choices or fancy illustrations. Does it ever feel the same when the reason you have to live your real life is no more, and you have to continue? This was our new story — Bethany and I.

“Dad, you left the toaster on”, Bethany ran out of her room with a face that revealed she was disappointed, yet humorous about it. Everywhere smelled of burnt sardine bread.

“I got carried away, love”, I defended myself, with a huge sigh. But such defense happens every time.

In this home, Bethany’s voice is the only thing I hear, the only reset button I know; the only command I take: “Dad” she screams, lifting her face vigorously, “Did you track the delivery?”; “When next are we going shopping?”, “Will we spend next weekend in that park?” “Dad, let’s pray for Mommy.”

What is clear now is that there are just so many questions I can’t answer; many, unexplainable. How do I explain to my 12-year old that the reason I never leave home is that I see the image of her mother on every billboard in the city, on the front of every poster, and in every woman whose eyes are large and dark — like the one I couldn’t stop thinking about two years ago when we visited one of the Chicken Republics. Now I remember her words more, you stop grieving over a loved one when a home is all you have in them.

Kehinde Badiru is a Nigerian writer, editor, visual artist, and book designer whose work explores nuances such as memory, love, identity, bodies and nature, migration, diaspora and liminal spaces. His first poetry collection, I Know Why Your Mother Cries, was published in 2020.

Kehinde’s work has recently appeared in Visual Verse, Daily Drunk Mag, 433 Mag, Clay Literary, and forthcoming elsewhere. He is the Founding Editor of Write Now Lit — a contemporary lit mag that is home to vivid writing.

His most recent book, An Assortment of Poetry Genres was co-edited with British writer, Angie Andrews published by Infinty Books, Europe (2021).

You can find him on Twitter @Kehindebadiru_ IG @Poetbadirukehinde and www.badirukehinde.com

Oyez Review

The literary magazine of Roosevelt University