The Oligarchs

The Oligarchs

Do not be taken in by their egrets’ snowy wings
Or be inveigled by their phalanx format in flight,
Do not be enchanted by their long, landly legs stealthy
Amongst the sleeping golden grasses
Or be deceived by their yellow pelicaned mouths
Or spelled be by the curvy grace of their swanned necks…
Follow the spoors of their treads and you will find them at banquets
Dining with Devil himself, with lengthy silvery spoons
Scooping mouthfuls of maggots into their guts
Squirming maggots from the spread on their host’s table;
Follow their lead and you will see their
Angelic companies in the city’s midden
Seeking out friendlies, those living off the dumped, rotting dead
Squabbling amongst themselves over the hulk of a carcass
The humongous corpse of Chinua Achebe’s country.

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Sakirat

Sakirat
(1998-2018)

Only in the dream-world
Only in the hazy patch of thoughts
Only at the crossroads to the market;
You would keep now a common distance
The selfsame ancestral aloofness
We would meet now in the world’s markets
Only you would be garbed
In another’s flesh;
You would feel us
See us and we would touch bodies
In the bumping markets’ crowd,
You would know us
As only a masquerade could know one but
The uninitiated couldn’t
For you have stepped into the ancestor’s dress;
You would watch us and our blindness
Would amuse your godlikeness
As only the groping of the living could
Amuse the spirit of the dead.

Only in the world of dreams
Only in the hazy paths of thought
Only at the crossroad of the world’s markets
You would flash before our face
The form we had taken for granted,
And we would pace quickly after a glimpsed frame
Fearfully, of another who carries your body
Alas! but not your eyes;
We would pine
We would cry inside
We that were your elders this side of the blind
We that must now greet you of many years
When we finally step over the threshold
Into the Ancestor’s lair.

The Mechanic

The Mechanic

My father the counsel
He squats by a Golf car
Tinkers with her braking system.

His clientele of hard men
Mostly hardheaded taxi drivers
When paying for repairs or spare parts
Extract monies like serpents from
The holes of their pockets.

My dada has strength
Memories like a river’s depth
An obduracy with a darkness
And where he wields spanners
I wield words.

My father the counsel, says to me
Son-man be strong in your dreams
Be more than the ashes
Left by a fire raging, be the suckers round
The fallen husk of a banana tree;
May the gods favour thee.

Nobody can stop me

Nobody can stop me

Of course, we know
Nobody can stop you from being
That which you have purposed to be,
Lord over all these hapless beings;

Nobody can stop you from becoming
The senator, the governor…
Not even the hoi polloi’s ruse,
Their pitiable parody of a voting voice;

Nobody can stop you
Once you are able to pay in the currencies
Of thugs and thighs
Of blood and bribes
And intimidate and dominate
The cravenly hordes, the dregs of humanity
In your tamed — or is it pacified?! — constituency;

Indeed you shall be that which you were
Destined to be
Even that which the Oracle had divined
At the altar of Fate
Where all had knelt and chose their Heads,
But a tyrant? But a robber?

When you have become that which you shall be
And shall covet more,
Then this oracle that divines for Only-I-always-me
Who always wants more,
Who says, nobody can stop me from taking everything,
Shall voice to you:

Whoever men cannot seize
They commend to the court of the Almighty,
And who has ever escaped the blade of her blind Justice?

Surely, not the wicked
Truly, not the heedless
And Death, imminent on the head of the reckless,
For the Owner of Heaven is yet to make
That which she cannot break!

Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis

You abet the rustler and
Tip off the cowherd,
Declaim to be a servant of the public
And yet exude power in every pore
Of your body;

You are the insider Death that
Let into the house an outdoor menace,
The thieving threat within that colludes
With those without,

For only your enigmatic clique could track
The spoor of their kind on the inscrutable sea…

It meets to call thee the fiery louse
Lurking under the donned blouse:
For you burn deeply and singe not,
The terrible larva munching on
The vegetal shelter it’s hatched from.

Dapchi’s Daughters

Dapchi’s Daughters

Who can see through this stained wall glass of tomorrow?
Who will fly impaired in this fog overcast
On the scape of the future?

Who, like the grandfatherly white cock, would perch on
The promontory of the sharp rock and spy for us
The road to the harbour of joy?

For we, being chickened, dare not leave
The prisons of our coops, lest these
Ravishing alien birds prowling the neighbourhood
Rarify us.

In a troubled land where man-made disasters dance
Naked in the market square, and Death stirs
Unchecked in her outskirt,
What farmhand his patch would hoe?
What river woman would paddle her canoe?

What daughters, left, would go to school
Whilst intrepid Peril lurks on their routes
To pluck and plunge them into the terrors
Of his horrific hive, the violence spartan
Of his feral subsistence?

But thou, goddess Mother, have the sights
Lead us, save this instant!
Wrench from the grasp of these rabid dogs
Our stolen songs, and from their vulturine guts
Our shattered smiles.

In you we plant our trust, O Mother All!
In the placid warmth of your earthy embrace
(Not in the ennuied inertia of the witless state)
Let your eyes end the wicked trampling on your face

Let afflictions keep time with their breath
Your soothing air hostile to them
Let the soil be vicious where they tread.

Mother goddess, save this very moment
Ere the moonless night enswathes forever
These flickering future sunlights
For the milk of the land is bitter, and its memory
Once dear, is bile.

Arise, Mother Large, Mother All
In the fierceness of your righteous ire
Slay the oath-breachers, remove their abettors
Let them die the dreaded death of the maggots…
Here are your bean granules
Here, your palm oil
Here your special akamu
And your sword.

Time of Man

Time of Man

Days dusk, they dawn
And the Counter-of-Days numbers on,
As it nights and then morns
The time of man piles up.

Days dusk, they dawn:
In the noon the boiling sun
And at night the soothing moon shines
As creatures their peculiar Daytime
Choose of the two.

Beneath the billion stares of
The faithful gleaming stars
Man sleeps the sleep of the dark
Not the three sleeps that’d change his life;

Still the Counter-of-Days numbers on
He clocks the breath of man
And keeps record of his elapsing time…

Days dusk and dawn
And they blind man, the eyes of God
The twin eyes governing the world
Dictating its walks and works

And though man knows not
The stuff time is made of yet,
He feels it slip by and mourns his loss.

Still Alive

Still Alive

Sing a lark, early bird
Sing a bright lovely song
Sing alive – sing a thrush –
The West-slumbered Seraph Sun.

Sing a lark, sing a thrush
Big-voiced black little bird
Sweep the earth with your warbling
Clear the dust, pack the refuse
Sing for love songs of hearts
Roll your round orange prat.

Blood on the Benue

Blood on the Benue

He was yesterday
He is today and, is poised to
Forever remain, immutable like the Jew’s Jehovah
The implacable guest of horrors on the doorsteps of a peace pastoral.

He is nothing novel but a well-known roving nightmare:
Who locusts the land with the herds herald of his apocalyptic comings;
Who rapes your daughters and wives without your consent;
Who pours into your body the lethal pellets which the deathstick he wields dispenses.

He robs you on the roads
He haunts you in the forests of your homes
He struts remorselessly having substituted your life for that of his beasts
A consummate killing machine, the genocidaire of the janjaweed ilk
Who turns a river to blood – in the food basket of the nation – and blood like a river flows
And trailing the dusts of his departure
Ashes with tears, blood and sorrow.

Ìsápá

ÌSÁPÁ

Firmly clutched in the thumbed hollow
In the lukewarm embrace of pounded yam

Your true self, mellowed hitherto, emerged
Ìsápá, king in the rivalling ranks of vegetables

We had wished to savour for a while longer
Your texture and taste sublime in the caves
Of our mouths

But alas! the pulls from the tunnels of our
Gullets dragged you down, gut-bound, and out!