Sentinel Literary Quarterly

Vol.2 No.3, April 2009. ISSN 1753-6499 (Online).

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Abayomi O. Zuma
Akinlabi Peter
Angela Nwosu
Ashley Capes
Benjamin Beresford
Gregory A Lawson
Lola Shoneyin
Matthew Coombe
Nnorom Azuonye
Nnorom Azuonye (2)
Simon Green
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Lola Shoneyin





And do you think that love itself,
Living in such an ugly house,
Can prosper long? ­
Edna St Vincent Millay


The ring of red wine on the coaster dries,

I see my lips have left their mark on your glass.

It happened when I tasted you in the Merlot.

I wanted a mouthful of your fruity tones,

wanted your blood to break my bread.


I do the rituals:

fret about saltiness in the stew

then the blandness of it;

flatter guests like the faithful wife.

but the man with the ring

on his finger does not look at me.

He knows I am half of another whole.


Across the table,

you graze the lip-print.

Your fingertips touch every grove

circle the length of my smile,

from the centre.


I despise the teapot that sits stout

between us. You offer it

to your woman friend

who warms her palms

on the arch of its back.

She knows too.


The moon dissolves light.

The wine sours in my mouth

so I find another room.

Soon, the ring will call my name

and I will answer just the same.

Then you will kiss me by the door,

leave me clutching my cheek

and wanting more.




Again, I’m thinking of the day

we met at the funeral,

how he squeezed into the pew,

how easy it was to dump death

for wakening.


There was something

about his sucked-in cheeks,

his knife-like beard,

the way he strung sin around his neck

like costly beads.


He tore me a corner of the hymnbook.

Abide with me, it said.

He said he was the second plague

that he could turn blood into water

with his pole.


I’ve come to free the captives

from the fourth commandment, he said.

To take women to the promised land,

build them lambs from golden dust

and flake them into salt.





Days doze by

and I don’t remember you.

The only charm of wifehood lies

in an old plastic box.


a cheap silver wedding band.

A dark line orbits it

like a nameless, unworthy moon

fingered far from the sun.


I put it away months ago

when, one broken morning,

I woke to find I hadn’t dreamed

of you in years. Nor cared.



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Lola Shoneyin is the author of Song of a Riverbird. These poems in this issue of Sentinel Literary Quarterly are from her third collection of poems, For the Love of Flight, which will hit the shelves in October 2009. Her novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives, will be published by Harper Collins in 2010.



Sentinel Literary Quarterly

 Published by Sentinel Poetry Movement

Editor: Nnorom Azuonye

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