This Countree

This Countree

We, the men of the house
Now jobless and a thrift
Which to our womenfolk
Read as godless and adrift,
We must hide in the rippling
Shadows of our rooms and
Try not to howl with the
Wailing shouts of our crushed testicles.

Far better is the slaving din of
These tropical gulags
The plants and the factories
All owned by foreign merchants:
The Koreans, the Lebanese, and of
Late, the Chinese
To whom, it seems, we have
Mortgaged this countree of our dreams;

Better they than our colleges mean
Which, like virulent plagues
Only take but rarely give

Òdí Méjì

Òdí Méjì

Verse one

 

I sit at my house
All good things draw to me;
I am seated at home
All wealth comes to me;
Here I sit
And I receive the plenitude of goodness.
This is the oracle that divined for Òdí
An initiate on his way to Òde Òkò
He sat by the road, his back on the tree of Akòko.
All goodness draws near
Quickly, hurriedly
It is where we place the deliquescent salt that receives its moisture;
All goodness, draw near
Quickly, hurriedly.
The hill does not tilt ere it receives its oblation;
All goodness, draw near
Quickly, hurriedly.

 

 

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This is an attempt to translate a verse from the Corpus of Ifa into English.
The Book of Ifa is a compendium of the sacred thoughts and pronouncements of Orunmila, the deity of wisdom and the mouthpiece of the deities in the Yorùbá pantheon. The Odù of Ifa is the most sacred text of the autochthonous religion of the ethnic Yorùbá

Disguised

Disguised

Wisps of smoke from the cooking stones
Assault our nose with the sickly smell
Of burning plastic
There is no firewood to feed the flames with.

We sit famished and
The gaunt eagle looks fattened in the eyes
Of our empty belly;

We lie fallow.
Lord, you feed these happy sparrows
Whose arrows dive glibly through the
Morning mist

Apparently, unaware of the undeclared famine
In the land

Angels are Singing

Angels are Singing

That is my sister’s bell
Mingling, yet distinct
In its crystal thread,
With the other girls’
Pealing with unadulterated
Joys only children could
Conjecture, coaxed out of
The baked clods of this
Harsh world.

Inside the room and
Alone with you
We strain our voices
Trying as adults
To clothe the groans of
Our closet sins in the false silks
Of forced conversations
And failing with ease

Whilst without, my sister’s
Bell’s chord peals sonorously
Mingling seamlessly with those
Of others equally angelic
In such colourful blending only
Children could conjure out of
The plain hangings that is
This world.

Mo, Mother

 

Mo, Mother

Ma, mama
Flood of birth water
Mangled in the blood river;

Ma, mama
Your silvern
Plaited threads of hair
Diadem of labour
Of stress;

Ma, mama
Reddened eyes of
Fierce love
Smoke and fire
Losing sight;

Ma, mama
Dawn and midnight
By the spitting sky
Dead of fingers
Working on…

Scolithus

Scolithus

(for fathers, the fathers)

 

unmanned by the husks of disembodied dreams
I soil myself in the puddle that collects
at the heads of tombstones sitting on the verandah of our mud vicarage.

sometimes, I sit on their rigid shoulders
the gone patriarchs
and watch as butterflies flutter
in the bush nearby
seeking flowers amongst weeds,

and sometimes, straddling their cold
plastered feet, I thrust my fingers through
the gaping rends of their crushed ruins
great rends from holes burrowed, methinks
by the grieve flights of disembarked dreams

Cold Decoction

( for orphaned Fumilayo, who, like many others, is too young to be a mum)

Life, she peeled you like a snug skirt
Nay, she ripped you
For you were too tight.
The bark of a tree butchered
Washed, whittled and watered
Until you became fermented
And your essence was decanted
Extracted in cold decoction.

Don’t

Don’t let them die
These tremulous thoughts divine
That well inside this rent heart;

Don’t let them drop dead
With these dark red blobs
Of life dripping off the steep sides
Of this fractured heart.

Give them winds and wings
To fly out of this injured heart
Give them life and spirit to thrive
Mother Gaea.

Sofia

Sofia

Your eyes are fair, child
They are crystals of innocence
I love their pied skies:
The black and white in there.

Your eyes are calm, child
And wide with lucid curiosity
Not yet clouded are with lurid thoughts
The grown-ups’ are peopled with;

Nor are they drowned yet in
The pooled dregs of pessimism
That sit cross-legged in this
Steep swathe of defeatism;

Nor yet are crowded with
The riddle of a hapless soul:
An upturned spirit bobbing in
The tides of life and its backflows.

Your eyes, my child, are so clear
And sincere with hints of true tears
They are the only heavens I see
In the midst of this hell

Night

Night

You crash upon my chest
A ton of lead
Seizing the heave of its breath

You who are closer to my skin
Amplify the screechy noise of my hex
In my head;

I see their tread
The embodied curses hovering
Just outside my vision’s edge
The curses virulent the gospellers
Claim are my ancestors bequests

For I was a child of a rich and dark scene
Long before the east and the west came in;

Night, you bring them near me
The ghosts of yesteryears
Of centuries dead
To torture and tear me with thoughts
And twisted imaginations
The visions of horrors floated in a
Thousand reflection.

Night, why do you weigh upon me with the rhythm of hell
And choke with heavy grip my reason for breath?