Rumpus Original Poetry: Three Poems by Ugonna-Ora Owoh





Queer art and contemporary

You step into a museum,
a photographer who is so      curious to know things

but gets upset of the things
you see most of the time.     Down the stairs,
there is an oil painting of love.

Side by side,
two boys are holding
closely a bolt of rainbow

as if holding each other’s heart.
They are kissing with a strong
zeal that looks real.
                                            What do you think of them?




When the sadness comes in like dirt,
I slide in neglect; an anti-elegy and mob out the left-over happy me.

I’m a citizen of several things at once,
as concern as they own me more than myself. The gold of this genesis is complex.

I mean too much things can’t exist one place at once.
It must be my body making all this space for itself and yet accommodating.


All I hear in myself is:

Say sadness, despite the species in the self.
Say boomerang, despite the bullet crawling from a pistol— coming at you like a

weird honeysuckle in vertical motion.
The phoenixes will welcome you despite knowing all these dead things.



Prayer boi

I spent what
devil August

Everyday always
calling me a bitch.
I’m so damned that
I forget myself. At little moments,
I‘m a billboard, all my images are

about suicide.
In the next,
I’m a prayer boy
casting all the devils into a light
bulb for devils know no light.


Photograph of Ugonna-Ora Owoh by Chi Grand.

Ugonna-Ora Owoh is a femme-queer Nigerian poet and model. He is a recipient of a 2018 Young Romantics/ keat Shelley prize and a 2019 Erbacce Prize. He is an Editor choice winner of a 2019 Stephen A Dibiase International poetry prize. His recent poems are in The Southampton Review, Jalada Africa, The Journal of Compressed Art, The Malahat Review, The Matador Review, The Puritan, Frontier Poetry, Crab Fat Magazine, Confingo Magazine, and elsewhere. He is featured in Pride Magazine and Puerto Del Sol Black Voices series. He is a staff reader at Helen literary magazine and The Malahat Review. More from this author →