One Poem, One Week

temporary lodging for poems in transit

Tuesday Poem by Dare Dan

i’m not missing you

you come writhing your body in my sight.
sexy.
you know i’ll always be by light.

we were a flicker; a taint in the eye of a sky; a hiccup
in an hourglass.
how old is the world to your insect now,
sexy?
i let you slip each time…
and when you’re gone, leaving no ripple
in sight,
i assume you to be lost…

but memory, like water, always finds its course
this time, running amok on wings destined to be lost.
i throw you back anon
swim forlorn in the sea of my mind and
track yet a path leading not to this stand.

Tuesday Poem by Gbenga Adesina

OPEN
(For K)

The things she says to me
I hide in stones.

 

Opal, sapphire, etchings like
pressed magnolia.
 

Eyes are the inner light of prophecy.
Let me be Orpheus. Sculpt O out of Oma
 

My woman is in the other room
translating Swahili into silence.
 

The alphabets curl like loss.
The vowels yodel, they open like the love of a child.
 

The things I say to her she keeps in olive
or wind, rain or the cities of my skin as they
 

open like the
love of a child.

 

____________

Gbenga Adesina is the author of acclaimed poetry chapbook, Painter of Water.

Tuesday Poem by Efe Ogufere

HOW MEMORIES MAKE BROKEN MEN

I have broken and disjointed memories of my childhood,
but every memory of you is untouched,
untainted and unchanged, Father.
Your flaws have carved the outcrop
of my existence into a restless rhythm.
You taught me how to raze bridges,
hold ash on my tongue till it dissolves
into a song of sober indifference.
I keep a souvenir of hearts broken,
a tribute to you, wayfaring stranger.
You have sculpted me in your image,
your finest work yet.
The first night you walked away
into blackness and then memory,
I died more than a little inside.
No one heard the screams in my head
as I stared out the window and counted
the few good memories on my stubby fingers.
When you returned I saw parts of you were missing,
you had lost shards of yourself,
become a collage of misfits,
unsure how to nurse your family tree.
No one knew it then but me,
so I numbered time until you left us again
on my fingers and toes-
94 days, 38 minutes
and 3 long seconds of misery

_______

Efe Ogufere tweets at @theaventurine.

Tuesday Poem by Moyosore Orimoloye

Exchange by the River Ose
Kurunmi
Tell me, man like Oedipus,
what you saw in your innermost chamber,
where you, hunter, retreated into-
like a deer pursued.
Graft of the unshifting Iroko,
reification of inertia,
what moved you to pluck out your own light ?
Odewale
 Ojuola’s lifeless body bore my face.
I feared a lifetime of looking into water,
and seeing my mother’s face contorted in orgasm
or worse-
the birth of my own children.
But tell me, Kurunmi,
man named in retrospect,
Did you go to Iwawun as warrior or farmer?
Kurunmi, why did you take five of your seeds to be planted in blood?
_______
Moyosore is an award-winning poet.

Tuesday Poem by Fatima Ademola-Asuni

I lie in bed, naked.

I run my hands over my damp breasts
& over the flare of my hips.
A smile hovers across my lips –
somewhere between shy coquette & vamp
between exultation & satisfaction.

You have left these hallowed thighs
& the moisture within
& my insides have turned to mush.

I bite my lip and think of the last hour;
magnificent you & amazing me –
an amalgam of heat, desire, passion.

I have looked in your eyes &
I have seen your soul,
with your thrusts, you opened mine.

For a while our galaxies collided
& we were one with the universe,
with each other.

I lie in bed, naked.

 

_________

Apparently Fatima Ademola-Asuni is not yet on Twitter.

On Losing Sight by Benson Eluma

Something is not-so-wrong this morning. Been playing some oldies, then got to this video. Classic, therefore open to every praise and accusation in the book. You could call it sublime or infantile, self-conscious or crypto-sexist, lavish or minimalist. You could call it in the same fraction of breath archaic and eternal. At 3:08 something happens. The doctor herself takes some of the medicine she’s just administered on her love-ailing patient, she swigs it stylishly like—your guess on the simile I’ll choose is right, my friend!—it’s Pilsner. Afterwards, she removes her spectacles and gives you the voyeur that look…. Made me laugh, then it dawned that this is the moment of parabasis, the meta-moment when the text comments on and gestures beyond itself. Jesus says in Edwin Morgan’s ‘The Fifth Gospel’: ‘It is not those that are sick who need a doctor, but those that are healthy.’ Everybody needs healing, Lord Jesus. Medicine, like love, like music, like language, is a descendant of sympathetic magic, contagion. The patient collaborates with the doctor to diagnose their common condition. Labour of love. Isn’t that what the true classics of passion do between their producers and consumers, diagnose our common ailments? And in doing so they become our aliments. We take them with us, even into the bedchamber where we recreate ourselves by ingesting each other in toto—all-round healing through whole-body transplant in a carnal sacrament of which the cannibal partakes because s/he wishes to incorporate the total essence of the other in appreciation of the other, in revocation of amour propre. The physician, not the potion, is the patient’s therapy; vice versa. 3:08 is a moment that dirty-minded, crotchety Harry, otherwise known as Aristotle, would appreciate. He would appreciate it, but only secretly at dead of night. At 3:08 peripeteia and anagnorisis coincide, thus satisfying the expectations as laid bare in the Poetics. Finally, I recognize myself because I see that your malady is mine, and mine yours. I see you, I feel you, therefore, I am. You see yourself bristling with life as you look in the mirror of my eyes and confront the reflected fires of your unease, my dis-ease. The dialectic, the negation of the negation, leaves the realm of abstractions and is made concrete in the synthesis of flesh with flesh. I stop seeing myself, stop feeling myself because I see, because I feel, you. And then I can’t see you anymore because I just so feel you, and you can’t see me either or even see yourself because you feel me, too. We see us, we see with eyes wide shut, then we stop seeing altogether, only feeling beyond feelings, drowning in the depths of that terrifically sensate orgy of the sixth sense of our frenzied union. The eye that is so blindly immersed in vision, immured in its aqueous medium, does not have to see itself, the ‘I’ that dissipates into the body of the love-signifying other in ‘continual surrender… to something which is more valuable… a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality’.

At 3:08 I recognize that I need that Pils, too.

_____________

Who is Benson Eluma?

Tuesday Poem Special by Toni Kan

This is not a Love Poem

Hush, I want to hear Wana-Wana, I say
Who is Wana-Wana, you say
And I see clearly that your world
And my world are worlds apart
No matter how many times we kiss
Or lie entwined like snakes
We will forever be apart
Because there is so much to learn
When you are not blinded by an erection

Is this a sub?
Sometimes a sub is much more than a sub
It is a shade and the fucking truth all rolled in one
And sometimes 140 characters
Are just too little, too puny to capture it all
The sheer circumference, the Yoruba-yashness of it all

Once, a long time ago, your Instagram posts made me laugh
But they lasted as long as a snapchat, interred now in the ether
Do you know the ether; Sir Eliot stuck in Wasteland?
Will your nubile body stand like a boulder between me
And the marauding army of approaching years?
Will our passion still burn, incandescent when I reach for the blue pills
Each time my man wants to stand at attention?

You say boo, and I jump, because no matter how long we kiss
Your language remains a barbarian’s babble like text-speak
I cannot LOL like you do or OMG like your friends
When they heard I was 45 and you just 20
If I had said fuck you to Gold Circle in 91
You, my dear one, could be calling me daddy
This is not a sub; this is just my own way of saying it is over
Because your world and my world are worlds apart.

Tuesday Poem Special by Iquo DianaAbasi

How does butterfly say to
eager child on its tail,
giggling, innocent, delirious,
‘run no more child. Come swiftly, lift me in your gentle fingers’?
Does the butterfly perch atop the child’s nose,
or does it wait till child tires, then
land on his fingers?

How does bird tell hunter,
the chase is pointless; long over before
catapult was loaded, pulled back, aim-ready?
Does it sing an inviting tune of lusty notes as it pretends to fly by?
Does it perch on a tree and flap its vibrant plumes?
Would it suffice to feign fright and fall to the
ground, though the stone missed
it by a feather’s breath?

How does the rose inform the clouds
she is ready for their gentle, then hard drizzle?
Does she stretch her bony branch skyward, her bed cracked
moisture-less, as the sun recedes after yet another day’s duties?
Would it suffice if her petals began to slowly
wither in wait as she thirsted, like I do now?
Would you understand this rose then?

__________

Iquo DianaAbasi  is a performance poet and her first poetry collection, Symphonies of Becoming, was critically acclaimed.

Tuesday Poem Special by Peter Akinlabi

The Arcades

(For Liz, whose botanical name I now forget)

 

She’s petite and had a braid.

I am Pete, I said.

We walked through the arcades;

the trees swayed. And silence,

hand-in-hand with intentions, walked ahead.

 

The harmattan wove its webs and sutures,

cold, like that, is kind to young loves.

Birds sang on the trees, dropping hints

into silence. I sought something to lay

the freeze bare for clarity

 

Sidestepping love’s essential gothicism,

I tossed the coin:

I confess, like a true poet, that I am

only broken

by the sources of things.

Throbbing. Hands. we looked in each other’s lattices.

All sextoned, she rent the gag,

wiping incredulity with a Shakespearean rag.

 

And Parting time like a bar-room curtain

we recreated a mythology of the garden.

 

We floated through the arcades, acrobats-on -stilts

looking for botanic roots of things,

bodies, luminous and riverine,

parsing things lustrous and serpentine,

we coursed towards the source of moist.

 

__________

Peter Akinlabi’s poetry collection, Iconography, is out now.

 

Tuesday Special by Dami Ajayi

A Short History of my Ringtone

I am emotionally attached to my phone. In a short career of phone use spanning 14 years, I have used only seven phones. And no, I am yet to lose a phone. Usually, phones lose me. The only phone that broke this tradition was my Nokia 3310 that fell to its death in my undergraduate days. It bled its black ink into the dour green phone display and I had to use it in this fashion till I saved to buy a Nokia 3510i, better known for its flourish panel lights.

My Sony Ericcson 7510i inducted me into smart phones. Prior to this, phones were useful for text messages, late night calls and the occasional drop-calls. Suddenly, phones meant so much more. I could play songs and surf the internet. Then there was the Blackberry era that revolutionized text messaging, after which came the Android era.

Phones rouse attention by way of ringtones. Back then in the monophonic days of blinking Nokia phones, I preferred customized ringtones. My favourite ringtone, as a Hip Hop head, was Ludacris’s Move Bitch and I can’t deny there was a hard-pressed urgency with which it announced itself. I also admired older folks whose phones bleat Ebenezer Obey’s Edumare Soromidayo whenever there was a phone call because familiar songs breed nostalgia which often releases endogenous opiates. We all love to feel good.

I currently use the most unusual ringtone and it has been in use for more than 3 years. Let me explain: I have tried to change this ringtone many times but whenever I changed the ringtone, I often forget that my phone is ringing. Even when it vibrates against my thigh, I still do not feel a kinship to the sound I am hearing. I tried Hugh Masekela’s shrilly Grazing in the Grass, Fabolous’s Cant Let Go—same difference.

Not until I restored my All Fo’ You that I felt that kinship. The story is that this song by The Greenwood Singers, a Liberian band in the late 40s, carries the weight of influences on its shoulder. There is also something uncannily American and dark about this song.  There is also something about the lead vocalist, Ms Eupheme Cooper, who is now of blessed memory. She passed on in her 90th decade five months ago. Of course, she is not oft remembered for her short stint as a singer. She was better known as Mrs Euphemia Weeks, widow of Dr Rocheforte Weeks, a former president of the University of Liberia.

Back to the song, All Fo You is quite popular along the coastal cities of West Africa. Perhaps this popularity comes from the hugely popular version by Highlife maestro, ET Mensah whose version in the early 50s is perhaps the best known. My first encounter with this tune was probably at a Yoruba traditional wedding and indeed it seems this tune has been around us for quite a while. The song is however traced back to a Jamaican folk song called Sly Moongose recorded by Sam Manning in 1925.

The Greenwood Singers version enjoys the squeaky vocals and sardonic lyrics of Eupheme Cooper who describes an unusual if not sadistic kind of love. In her depiction of this love which defies the ethics of altruism, hammers and razors are used on the lover perhaps to expose the extent of this love. Over sparse acoustics—guitars and a hint of drums—the song paces to the realities of a sly love with a hierarchy of requests that presupposes insanity.

Once in the company of some Kenyan friends in different states of inebriation after a wild night of club-hopping in Port Harcourt, whilst being chauffeured to their hotel, I played All Fo’ You and they soon began to sing along perhaps because there is something hypnotic about that repetitious “All Fo You” and something silly about the fate of lovers.

The next time my phone jumps to the late Eupheme Cooper’s voice, I will be reminded of memories both personal and communal. I will let her story and song edge towards the 20 seconds mark before I say into the phone, ‘Onye ne kwu’.

 

Sisi Akowe:

the Observer blog

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