the inhaling

time/ is inhaling us both.—Anthony Anaxagorou.

I miss the quiet of the night, the joy of having all 

that expanse ours, the fine curtains of God’s sprawling sky 

all jeweled with stars. how mad we were, mad &

beautiful, like little children trying to explain how 

the universe works, stupid but cute all the same. 

I think of you, & your face, all bright with that smile,

is what fores. I miss the days before we knew the universe

as a fist: all the cigarettes we burned behind the hostel,

all the rivers whose depths we tested? remember how I danced

like an idiot in a Yoruba comedy movie, the first time I did weed,

my body alight with colors, a birdy boxset filled with joy.

all the rain-wet nights we spent walking the dirty streets

of Abeokuta, days the world felt so cold we had to invent

our own warmth. had we known this long road was waiting us?

remember how we talked about the future, about what Time can do

& undo—between em-dashes in convos about the girls, the girls, 

the girls—in our bodies? man, I wanted to write you a love poem, 

one to tell you how hungry I am for us to return, to be 

back in our untouched bodies, to sit, just the two of us,

under all of that expanse, laughing, laughing, & laughing

at this world, a jargon of Math questions written by the crazy

fingers of God—but here, what have I said, but that Time is

all that we fear, the bitch that wrests everything from our hands

& wouldn’t give it back


Ernest O. Ògúnyẹmí is a writer and editor from Nigeria. His works have appeared/ are forthcoming in Yemassee, Journal Nine, the Indianapolis Review, Down River Road, the Lit Quaterly, the Dark Magazine, 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry III, Agbowó, Erotic Africa: The Sex Anthology, Acumen Poetry Magazine, Glass, Memento: An Anthology of Contemporary Nigerian Poetry, Litro Magazine, and elsewhere. He is the curator of The Fire That Is Dreamed of: The Young African Poets Anthology, and the author of the tiny book of poems, my mother died & I became _______ (Ghost City Press). A CAC Fellow, he is a reader at The Masters Review and Palette Poetry, and an assistant editor at Counterclock Journal.