Via Negativa

A 15-year abacus, a rosary of flint faces,
and an inverted road.
St. Jonah, personal patron, pray for me.
You brother of cowards and fugitives,
welldigger who struck a bedrock
of scorpions every time.

I too have encountered
a rising tide of what could be water,
if it wasn’t paralyzing me from the feet up.
It’s that venom for the black market,
the good stuff I move in lucrative spreadsheets.

I suspect I have no idea what I’m doing,
and these detours may kill me,
but if I cross off every wrong road,
I might find the final one for me.


The Creation of Man

There, amidst the dry faucets of water cycles, the ketones of God’s breath pricked my nostrils, stunned as I was after the birth canal, and I became a living soul.

From that vapor nanites, industrious, had gone to my washing cylinder core, and set it to spinning. There’s the secret of perpetual motion we’ve failed to replicate: to pass the torque to progeny and, worn, be swapped out, world without end.

Perhaps that’s why I don’t dwell on those first seven days, or trillion years, and ask nothing for myself anymore, just the offspring.

And so my gravitational whorl drew me to metallic feet while my parents lay, serpentine in a sleep they made. A zygote knows something, or nothing of violence, but I’m told there had been a miscarried world before this, flushed in a deluge of red.

And God said, let’s try this again.



tolu oloruntobaTolu Oloruntoba was born in Ibadan, Nigeria, and practiced medicine before his current work in healthcare management. Some of his recent and upcoming bylines include Pleiades, Bird’s Thumb, Columbia Journal Online, Entropy Magazine, and SAND Journal. His poem in Obsidian, “We Will Have Questions”, was nominated for the Pushcart Prize, while his poetry chapbook, “Manubrium”, will be published by Anstruther Press in 2019. He lives in Metro Vancouver with his family, and can be found on Twitter @toluini

Featured photo credit: Amanda Ollinik @Allunderonemoon