again

new friends from the time of old

such a  joy in me you stoke!

friends returned from my forgone past

so sweet seeing again your faces bright:

wrought as they are with unspeakable beauty

& ringed with the facts of a bitter-sweetness

& etched with the lines of a worldly-wiseness.

friends from the days of old

friends from ages past

now you touch my soul

with the flights of your feathery presence

akin to the hoary charge, ceaseless, of a cataract

whose roar alone would unman the fainthearted!

old friends anew

the wings of your artless candour

enliven these staid buds of my youth

& I sense in the vintage of our electric reunion

the hands of vision, of fate

for I taste on the lip of this frothy gourd of time regained

the renewed wine of pleasant recalls

also, the curdle of long-fermented ones

& all the tongues that have gone before!

The World is a Marketplace

It is market day in Ijaiye
We will not go to school
No, we will not!
On a market day in Ijaiye
There is a lot to sample
Rather much to enjoy.
The marketplace brims
with peoples
Folks from far off
With whom we bump rumps as we hustle
Jolted by this enchanted world.
See the mules of vehicles
laden with farm produce!
There, haggling women babble
over green-fingered bananas.
It is market day in Ijaiye
& off we go to stake our claim:
Up, Boys of the narrow town!
(This is not some backward village)
With logs across the only road
we demand our dues of the loads
on every motorised mule.
This is our day
A market day in Ijaiye
Our old illustrious town;
It is our time to mingle with folks
from the city
and hunters from the forests
with farmers from their hamlets.
The schools know today
They do not count
For we will not go to their compounds
& have the masters oppress us
& with their cane compel us
@ lessons in strange tongues:
Latin, inglis, d grecyian on…!
We choose to roam the market
& flirt with the damsels
& scowl at the drivers
& scoop with our bare hands
steaming bean pudding from their leafy lairs.

Qhoot

my boy
let me hide from this storm
in your haven,
the sky bestirs, grumbling
and I
am heavy with ripen seeds.

my son
may I invade the shades of your forest
to earth in the furrows of the follicles thereof
seeds for future harvests?

sleep while you can and
let me man the doors
till such a time it would be your turn
to race a squall into a shelter
& perhaps find waiting
the warmth and the fur in the core of a lover.

disjointed, still…

now to crave acutely
those trite nothings that didn’t matter
while we were together: betrayal!

to men that seem half the man
their father was, fret not —
is it not clear fire begets ashes soft?!

in our circle it is known
we scribble sweet nothings &
tag them poetry ( not prose )
for that genre solely warehouses our freedom
hers the only cottage where we feel welcome.

Fatherland

Africa
You are not free
not yet
surely you do not think
this new bayonet can not kill.

Africa
You are not free…
have merely exchanged masters
your gun-shaped landmass
— their grand kill.

Your gun-shaped landmass
its jewelled lakes and rivers
the grassy plains and deserts
the sacred forests and peaks…
one composite meaty pie
slashed once, in berlin!

Africa
your peoples pass to stranger hands
one chunk at a time
sold into a second slavery
a voluntary thraldom.

Africa
the rope-coil of strangulation straightens
and it slowly passes, almost imperceptibly,
from the jaded paws of the occident’s lion
via the Silk Road
into the growling maw
of the orient’s fearful symmetry.

A Phobia

this quiet is not of sleep
it is of fear
of phantom perils Daylight-publicised.
this silence is not of peace
but cowardice
the alleged nuances of familiars
the demonisation of harmless Night.
the prophets came
calumny in their hearts
they talked their share
& claimed the end in here!
Night endures their slanders:
the newborn cry of a feral cat
that shriek unnatural of an avian
the grieving ghost seeking a host…

whereas
the goats
the much-maligned cats
the owls
the mental street-sheltered
are the sole tinkerers
of Night’s sounds.

Artist: atmaja misra

Atavism 3

I feel a kinship with birds
long-buried perhaps forever lost;
I feel the faint swish of absent wings:
same way amputees reach for their missing limbs.

within these bars
there’s a soar to my soul
such defiance!
I’ve a hunger to view things from above.

I have an avian ancestry
a pair of feathered wings gone missing!
the hollow streamlined skeleton
built for lightness, long-buried!!

Artist: Atmaja Misra

buffet, free

An Elephant’s corpse feasted on by Vultures.

it once was a land
a happy thriving land
or so they claim:
achebe’s lot;

it now is a corpse
has been for some time
an elephantine carcass
to the joy of many a knife.

drab hummingbirds, for her,
abandoned their flowers
they float over her hulk
and suck substrate off her pores,

and having sucked
they sprout iridescent feathers
no ordinary corpse, this achebe’s carcass!

giant vulture from the great desert
they gang around
and glut on her blue whale bulk

when they have gorged themselves
it turns out they are as gorgeous
and as splendid as the eagles of the plains.

for decades now
the strange corpse hasn’t changed
she neither reeks nor rots
and where chunks were cut away
she heals again!

even alien scavengers
from foreign seas
called by her blood and bits washed offshore
they wade inland
and partake of the feast;

nothing cloying
they are all still feasting
for each bite is an adventure
in tasty
a most miraculous stiff
this carcass of achebe’s country.

Photo credit: Jean Marie Takouleu, via Google