JUNE 2021 THEME: ENTRAPPED
For once this silence is not golden
This silence is death
This silence enslaves as with social injustice
And the emancipation of the mind is a freedom we long hope for
Silence is not golden
And we cannot scream out in the streets
To all the men and women who questions the language of our mother’s Tongue
We are buried with fears
Because there’s no hope for a cage bird whose beak is cut off
and thrown away with all the million songs of freedom
And who will tell our stories
Where is our place in history
If our mouth remains shut with bridles of social fears
Mother told me Ala died this morning, her voice cracking as she wept.
Ala had died of asphyxiation– autopsy revealed.
She was murdered while she slept,
and her body, wrapped away in a plastic grave.
“Before her was Ikuku…”
Mother trailed off staring into space, .
my fair weather Uncle, Mother’s beloved brother.
He too was murdered, in the most cruel way!
His lungs cloaked with fumes and smoke and noise.
They tortured him to insanity– till he could bear it no longer.
“Why? ” Mother had asked hysterically.
“Why are they doing this to us?
I fed them, I clothed them, I sheltered them, ” she wept,
“they are a so, so ungrateful bunch, Why? ”
“I am scared too, Mother,” I cried,
“They are ‘Oil-boarding’ Oshimmiri, she is drowning in oil
and there is nobody willing to help her!”
“Mother, I am scared,
will they come for me too?”
Ala – The Earth
Ikuku – The Wind
Oshimmiri – The Ocean
Like the drawn vacuum moment
I am half a golden melon
Bashed and matched in the hands of human mockery
And my ears cannot distinguish between the drizzling whispers at home and echoes above mountains
My father’s lap is a carved site of charcoal
Burning through my fragile flowers as I forcefully withered into his abbs
He said, silence!
& Home used to be a comfort ladder to heaven
But when my father found love in my black body; I said farewell to sanity
Fruits fell and water spilled
When he poured me some cup of burning sensations
My lake transformed to a lagoon and I became the arrested breath of a dying child
My father said silence again as I ate my first slice of pain from home
For thoughts that’d never soar
beyond my pressed neck
dancing to the naked rhythm
of the captives’ tom-tom.
For dreams that died
of lack of watering
as seedlings denied sunlight wither.
For aspirations that faltered
with poor visions – batterings
do no good to men,
the eyes that will last a lifetime
does not rheum at first light.
Bound am I to nought and all
to the chains of oppression,
jealousy and hate,
to matters of folly,
snares of wickedness
in a land where nothing good dares
What are you? Frail voices in my head.
A noisy babel, corrupting me, drowning me; damning me.
They fought with arrows of my memories: in my head they clamour
“You are death! A song without a tune, a wounded scar, a trapped bird
A web of despair, you are pain, the un-sinned sin, a labyrinth of wants
A quicksand hidden by flowers, a garden over run with weeds”
Words of despair became me, my soul trapped by its own webs
How gloomy is the sullen desolation that follows?
Thus, the voices continued: “your mind is your prison,
A prison only for you, your story too gory to be retold.
You are a half smile, a grim ghoul”
What am I? I am September 11, that day of doom
I smiled, when my ruin was sowed, I still held a cigarette;
Like a companion in my desolation; when the doctor said:
“You have stage three lungs cancer”
Thus, darkness enveloped me, despair became me.
I cried within where no one can hear,
Trapped where no help can reach.
I am the tree who cut my thread of life.
Garb with raiment of darkness, into death’s hall I will descend.
My body is a bird &
this country is a cage.
You never know why I
never sing. For the earth
underneath is hot that my
wings have forgotten its
language & my lips its
melody. In this body, I’m
stifled & my strength lacks
the ferociousness to call.
This body is not what I bargained for
this cage is not where I will sing
all my hopes gone to sleep forever
this country is me & my beaks are locked
in the midst of dust and vacuum, I rise
but this dirge is not for me to sing
I have lost myself in me & now, you know
why this caged bird will never sing.
I was asked:
How do you not stop loving your country
After freedom becomes a fallacy?
How do your feelings for your fatherland
Not die like the figs in Autumn?
What believe do you carry for a nation
Where the stars are wilted, the sun is unrisen,
And dawns are devoid of cocks’ crow
But doves with coo-like dirges.
How do you picture hatred that will shapeshift
Into love, and wars unwrapping into peace?
How will an Arewa sleep at a Biafran’s home
And not cease to breath
Or dine with a Yoruba without pushing death into his mouth?
What heart do you use to pump affection towards a land
That slayed your brothers for airing a revolution?
What spell stole your sight
From seeing a failed state?
I’m entrapped by hope.
as children, we were taught freedom
is a genetic disease, shackles that left
our land in oblivion, the sword that conquered
our mother’s land & shackled us into slavery.
as children, we were made to crawl
with our heads on our backs,
and our feet in the air,
and our hands on the ground looking for no lost crumbs.
as children, we were taught — by our parents that we are a progeny to dirges,
that we spurted from the belly of lamentations.
now, we leap in the rhythm of a bird,
in the chortles of a freed feather.
we rise like the sun over dusk
in the rhythm of a freed feather.
Across the surface, an inverted skein of light,
smooth as a golden-eye
and its underwater webbed propellers.
Wind wields an uncommon broom of air
but sweeps gently, the shining liquid screen.
This lake is memories by the drop,
or in the transient handful,
an old wonder, a storage vault of faith and innocence.
It’s the scent of pine and hyacinth,
occasional leap offish like a woodwind trill
in an orchestra of mellow violins.
Children unbutton shirts, don splash and chill.
A man wades away from the shore
until he’s up to his neck in diamonds.
In the distance, an angler casts his line
just as the sun does, with incalculable reward.
Imagine a sitting room peopled with dolls
an attic space filled with toy trains and cars
adult places filled with children’s playthings
out of their time
and moved on
into a time
when even the box
with it’s wrappings
fails to excite us
in your language/ a boy is falling/ into a lagoon of grief/exhausted: a divorced prayer.This is/ only a poem/ through a microscope/ in which/you knife yourself into the vastness of a wound. Each night/ you seduce the sky to mother you/ & unwound your tongue/ to swallow yourself/ you want to believe a body/ is more than a noun/consider how a word breaks/ into random miracles/ & you only define it not to be familiar/or rather of/ what you cannot afford to name/ which means/ you learn mouth is another word for drowning/a museum of patterns.
hear, oh earth, a country is still bleeding
failure from colonialism’s scourge. her green has been
ground with grief, yet her leaders wrap it as glories over the
see, her dream is like a rotten rodent in the tongue of a stale fish.
see, her skin is filled with feathers of fights and greed.
see, her father land is farther than the land her children conceived.
hear, oh earth, as the cries of innocent blood are seeking escape route
from the ground. hear as her mothers’ mourns from lekki massacre shrink the
air. hear as insults drool from her children’s lips. hear as the drips of the country’s
failure, and see how her leaders wrap them as glories over the media.
hear, oh earth, hear! hear the clarion’s call to rescue. hear and heal the messiahs
till they rise and raise the flags of freedom. hear and bloom the bouquets of green
on her skin. replace the thorns with wreaths. dry the rain of infirmities and let joy shine
as the sun. hear the clarion call to rescue, oh earth.