Issue 32 – 2021 – Tomi Adegbayibi

Tomi Adegbayibi

Five Minutes : Fifteen Seconds


The brace hugs the staff in the body of rain’s fluidity.

The notes fall on the

                           ground in semibreves.

                               Semi            minutes

                      Semi               minims

                                   Semi            liquid

breaks of withering stems. I am ringed between the line,

we are rinsed between the lines. Strings in conversational bleak

hammer the felt of the air – fray its seams. The ear a fibre of wool.

Capsize.      The cavity of a drum.

Drowning is a timbre of sound whose tonal colour is puce.

This is the bleeding of infrasound. Mute the screams of veins running backwards.


The caesura of breath is death.

In a Time Lapse from Experience by LUDOVICO EINAUDI






Act iii  I hear you


Densely multitracked, the vocals

are lost in a forest of pines. Scales, the bark, the tree,

the scales fall from the arrangement of night.

I walk and breath is pace reversed.

I forget if I am breathing in or out or backwards.

A chorus. A choir. My lungs a duet made of velvet.

Chiffon the fabric of memory.

When the wild wolves stalk, the heart is its own percussion.

I contemplate what it means to be held arrested by your heart.

Beat the pulse, the base, hushed the bass, barely an echo

Barely the time it takes to blink.

The snow sets – veils my scream under auto tune

Solace in spasms. I am still and peel back the nail of you.

The sound of your palms clapping – or was it the it your fingers strumming.

I want your skin to match the temperature of this dying.

I choose water. I choose to be tied by the strings of my old guitar.

I choose the piano on the bed of the sea.

This winter is not so bad. The words wish to be read slow.

Silence wishes to be sung aloud.

Dragged by the undertow, the poem shrieks at first

Then is buried beneath white, then blue, then sky.

Porcelain the sclera ceramic it cracks.

No one is to blame.

I can smell wood. I drown before the air in me drowns.

The song is a ghost, rubs its fur against the pines.

In the morning the snow is white and glass and blood. The wolves sleep.

The pleats inside the chorus trail.


-You will melt my heart one day.

And you will make for a beautiful sea.




Salahi and I  

Serpent is the spine. These blacks, they melt marble on a calcite dream,

thins saliva to wet light, damp dark thins me into saliva (I am) stillness in graphite dream.


Resin this muslin skin, the Sufi bleeds a Sudanese smile,

hides it beneath translucent shadow. On this small cotton space, he might dream.


Tearing acres of touch, the grain of grey tones carries the scent of musk.

An oedipal/phallic blue makes mother wipe tears to teeth. This is not the right dream.


If I enamel you in earth would you crack the colour of bone ? Soft my eyes to glass,

tissue my nerves to brittle. Sleep the surface of shade. Teach braille sight & dream.


Wake up on the cataracts of the Nile. Pour down on the inside of streams,

Swathed arabesque yellow. The cloth of the border exiles you to a Lucite dream.


The writer un-names themselves under the current of an artist. Veils of a narrow textile

twined in a nameless dance. The page, his cloth, this sheet – paralysed in a finite dream.

Reborn Sounds of Childhood Dreams by Ibrahim El-Salahi  (1961–5) Enamel paint and oil paint on cotton. Size 2588 mm × 2600 mm

Ibrahim El-Salahi – Reborn Sounds of Childhood Dreams I 1961–5. Enamel paint and oil paint on cotton – 26 × 26cm




Espirituales Cubanos (In a Room)  

The skin of someone’s palms against the skin of a batá drum.

A back and forth of touch speaking.

A calling through a speaker far from there.

A calling for the response of the spine.

Hollow your bone empty.                     & Worship.


Night is crisp, rattles the same as the atchere.

Your arms raised, wild and liquid. The body sings movement

screams dismembered praise.

Darkness deforms the light on your nakedness.

Call back for native wings.

Drain your cells transparent.               & Worship.


Closed eyes. Your blood to charge your heart.

Charred – the air against your skin.

Honeyed phosphenes to litter the flesh behind the lids of your eyes. 

This is abandon. These are your ancestors.

This is returning and time.

Bare your wounds for healing and sweetness.          & Worship


A string instrument  and voices wind your twirling to knots.

The feet, the tines of your hands to twist. All that you are twists

and the night  is sharp.

The curve in your back bows. Sway backward and forward.

This is speaking alone and together.

Leave your body.                                           & Worship




Tomi Adegbayibi is a Nigerian poet from London.  She has self-published a small collection DSM-? A Poetic Revison (2018).  Her poems have appeared in zines such as Datableed. Current projects are concerned with the prose poem as well as one’s sensory experience of the world and how the human being’s plight and the earth’s beauty might fit into the space of poetry.