Wale Owoade


Before the War

A man’s voice fills the room
with laughter like rain washing

our rooftops. The radio plays
eighties. A woman bakes fire.

A girl crushes ants with her blue sneakers
while she paints her fingernails.

The road leads to dust. Children
litter the street like missiles.

Men and women offer their
bodies to the sun. The freedom of music

and the moan of sex. Light travelling
through dreams. Newspapers.

Fingers cuddle cigarettes, empty
beer bottles, highlife with reggae touches.

Jazz, pop, hip-hop, parties’ heart beat
at four a.m, a couple kissing down

St. Patrick street, pointed nipples,
hard cocks murmurs in the darkness.

Condoms and multiple orgasms.
Selfies and snapchat, flat batteries

and Facebook, barbecue and pepper
soups. The breath of mint and cheap

perfumes that sit in the back of the throat.
Candlelight dinners. Plastic roses.

The light going out.



She escaped the room with
a lake spilling down her legs.

Her body rained red, and her breath
stinks of someone’s beer.

Dew stuck on her thighs and
matted her hair like mud.

Once she wore bright coloured
necklaces, fat braids, palm cakes,

wetlips, her body a canvas
so boys and scars are

brushstrokes. The breeze rode
her torn blue dress and

left her open. That body,
an altar where the boys offer

prayers. They burnt woods on her.
They left the flames to rise.


Wale Owoade is the founder and managing editor of EXPOUND. A Nigerian whose work has previously appeared and is forthcoming in African American Review, Transition, Guernica, The Brooklyn Review, Jalada, The Collagist, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and several others. He has received Pushcart Prize nomination and some of his poems have been translated into Bengali, German and Spanish. He is a Research Institute for World History (Tokyo) scholar and was invited to the Callaloo Workshop at Oxford, UK in 2017.

Duende Logo.png