Poetry by Ugonna-Ora Owoh

My body as a chapel


My body doesn’t produce little secrets anymore. All I see is thongs growing from the opened archives. I might like to get drunk, I might like to piss out, stain in my calved holiness, what God make me see; a little boy struggling to unswallow his secrets in his mother’s face.

My body belongs to men with stolen ghost, salt makes it glisten, water makes it weaker, touches make it God’s blunt teeth. I walk into a club at Oakland & dance in the ballroom like my body is not the chapel anymore, where God house his saliva for holy water.

His blood for purple vinegar. His flesh for communion host. His voice rings like a bell inside me, music can’t steal it from me. I close my ears, pin my fingers closely, try to listen to silence. My teeth crisp, a palm stretch divides me.

you are a dressed sin, he says. I close my eyes, rip in my concentration, try to forget about men holding my waist, pulling God’s blood out of me with a touch. I say over & over again to myself, you won’t walk out of temptation, temptation is a knife cutting you out of god’s tongue.

Bringing you closer to places pleasure is a new God. Too many sins too close to your soul. My body takes God out, toss it secrets again & again, thongs make a home of me, I peel my sadness out, try to hang it to evade the wetness.

I trip in the street, I run into the chapel, I levitate, guilt pour out of my mouth. I kiss the holy book as a form of prayer. Keep God inside me where he belongs, my secrets. Try for my thickened body. Soil my skin more, empty I evade.


The tradition of smoke


Vacuum smoke trap my breath

ice deep-motioned of red florid blossom my oxen like faded teethed light

It is the tradition of my cuticles              to inhabit the burns of bearded men’s finger touches

We try for love    try for romance

open our mouth more & say the words love want to hear                a rawboned silence in between us            so hardened like a blue-black empty space

It’s bigger of us to take a touch of our greased black skin

the red sun touch us first like sweating bullets

gun cocking our names out of our tongues

A pulsing of blood                we chew the moment for the space beyond the dark                                 lift our hands up & fright covers us like rain

We borrow a language         sew our teeth finer

Isolate the bruises

Stomach the pains                drink dribbling water

swallow our saliva like a drainpipe                          call unto God for another day

without disappearing into another trouble

Ugonnang-Ora Owoh  lives in Nigeria. His poems have been published or forthcoming in British Configo Magazine, Agbowo, Pangolin Review, Eunoia Review, Rigorous. He’s a 2018 young  romantic prize finalist & a 2018 Fowey prize recipient. He has been featured on pride magazine & Puerto Del Sol black voices series.

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