Tuesday, 9 July 2019

The Chief Priest

You shall not have your sacrifice today
Though you stare with menacing scorn
At the small of my rusty resolve

It is them I fear
The many heads that fall
In obeisance to your luscious form

Haughty god of the secret mangroves,
The world of gods is not the world of men
Tis the heads that bow will butt you down.

I will not give your sacrifice today.

Monday, 11 March 2019

Lunatic Lover

It is not out of place that I found you today after searching for days that ran into weeks and weeks that ran into months. The voices, both within and without my head, always assured me I would find you.  It was your smile I saw first, that smile that is the color of the flow of Osimiri the great river- quiet and graceful. But I expected you would run to me and assuage me with warm kisses. Instead, the cold smack of your eyes, like the thrust of the Samurai’s cherished sword, cut my excitement down to size and left it gasping for breath.

I would have found a bag your size and bundled you into it. Then I’d take you back to the house and place you back in the frame in mother’s living room. But I thought that would not win your affection. You’d call me a kidnapper, or worse a caveman, then stain the paint on the canvas with your tears.

Then I thought of cleaning your face of the ungainly stains of leanness etched in your creases. You used to be like the well-fed African woman, robust and rotund, and the colors lingered on your cheeks before bouncing off into my eyes. But I thought that wouldn’t win your affection either. You’d call me an unfeeling, ceremonial lunatic. Then you’d throw my brushes at my face and scrounge your immortal eyes in unforgiving sorrow.

And you’ll laugh and fear when you tell your friends of the sentimental fool whose canvas you stained with tears and whose brushes you threw back full in the face. Your friends will shriek in oohhs and aahhs and secretly wish it was them I loved. They will not remind you that our destinies are like the roped pots of Igbo Ukwu- long and clinging. They will not tell you that destinies are like the patterns on butterflies- they are locked in and sealed after they have been painted. Your friends will not tell you you must have me or no one else.

These your friends, of course they do not hear the many whispers we exchange every night in my dreams. I tried to remind you but you were too busy shouting and cheering the lunatic cops and more lunatic judges you and those lunatic friends called to bundle me away- cheering them as they came for me. I saw these ropes by the roadside and knew they were better than any bag I could hope to take you back in. I only came at you with these ropes because they would have been comfortable transport for taking you back home.

I wanted to tell you I’d been searching for you since you dropped out and left the frame and canvas empty. I wanted to remind you of how your face lit up whenever I came into the room, like the sky when the candle light of the stars are turned on and tell you how your absence was the solar eclipse that abruptly stole the life from our world. I wanted to remind you of dreams and of songs, of snuggles and of giggles, and of the many tales you listened to as I told them by the wane light in mother’s living room. I wanted to tell you that your lips, Mona Lisa, were drawn for smiling, not for shouting with lunatics. And now these lunatic cops that you called will not let me near you. Worse still, they will not take this message to you.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Lunatic Wanderer

"Not all those who wander are lost" J.R.R Tolkien
They say I have no destination. They say my movements lack purpose. I agree I do not have an itinerary like they do and my life cannot be summarized by a military schedule book. I do not stand like they do, waiting for the same bus to take me through the same dreary roads everyday.
And that is because I would rather be free to wander.
Their paths are fixed and unchanging. They call it order. I ask what order means when the roads cannot speak to you and you cannot hear the trees sing. I am free to wander. That is why I follow the road that calls to me. I walk the paths where the trees sing the loudest and the gossip of the shrubs most perceptible. When I walk I do not follow a straight line like they do, like the ants do too. I sit on the ground close to the whispering shrubs. I press my ears to the road. I sing along with the trees and dance with the mud by the roadside. I listen as the shrubs gossip about the ugly politician who passed that morning on an ill-fitting agbada. They listened and laughed while he bragged to his entourage that the agbada was made by the best tailor in Europe. "It's either Mr. European tailor forgot our politician's pot-belly while taking measurements or the belly was still growing at home!", the father shrub declared! "Maybe the European did not know the belly was real!", another ventured! They cheered in agreement. The pot-belly was indeed fake! Wonderful newscasters these shrubs are and I will not miss hearing the news from them!
But you call me lunatic when you see me kneeling beside the road and laughing with the weeds. Yet it is you who is insane, both a blind and a lunatic Bartimaeus!
Those wanderers who are lost, they are lost because they will not stop to hear the chatter of the butterflies. It is the butterflies who will tell you when the road to your destination has changed. And the roads, you see, change everyday. I know because they tell me so. The lost are those who will not stop to see the new road markings on the barks of the aged ferns. They are those who do not seek the river the sun draws on the coal tar at midday. They assume they know the way. That is why I wander. I wander because the means is really an end- the real end. I wander because my quest must be new every new day. I need not know the way. I will find the way every new day!
I wander because the earth is mine to own. The earth will not own me. You brag about the things you own. I laugh at the many things that own you! I'd rather be free! I'd rather be free to wander- to paint my dreams with the songs the Irokos sing and the prayers the Kola trees offer. I'd rather be free to be lost  than be bound like the sane. I wander because the trees once told me that wonders always lie in the paths hitherto unknown. And these trees you see here make such wonderful story tellers! They say the wonders from our dreams are real and that we ought to spend our waking hours searching for them. They say every straight line is a combination of little zigzags. Those who get to the top of the Everest take many detours, and it not folly taking a detour to see the beauty of a wild flower. I wander because I'd rather see the wonders from my night dreams. I'd rather search for wonder than live pedestrian.

Monday, 27 November 2017


My casket will be polished to look like mahogany, seeing the undertakers always want us looking our best. The many voices of the brethren will ricochet of its silent surface and cut the dry harmattan air into pieces. But because I will not die a hero there will neither be a flag for mother nor a gun salute to make the birds scream and rant. The search party will see my shoes at the shore. I kept them well.  But they will not see my body.
It was the sea’s outstretched smile and minty savor that drew me close. But I will drown today. The mermaids are bent on it. They, together with the waves, have formed a half circle around me. They push the current back when I try to move. Now they know I’m tired. And the spirits are taking turns laughing at the futility of my many swimming certificates. We were not taught how to die in class.
The lisp of the wind is breathy, like a rich baritone. The wind is closer at sea. I will simply sleep among the waves and wake among the mermaids. Perhaps the mourners will sing as haughtily as the wind and mother will remain as calm as the waters below this storm. I hope the men too will cry and the dogs will not bark at my kindred spirits in attendance.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Summer Rose

I found you close to the valley. My summer rose.
You found me closer to the valley. My summer rose.
My heart dances to songs with certain melodies. Why do you sing so? Your starts and stops, your breaks and bridges, your certain melodies; they pluck strings in my soul region. They pluck strings with the gusto of an affectionate, brutish amateur. And ere I remember my long lost promise never again to let my heart rule this graying head, my waist is already weaving circles around the imaginary lines they place all around me. And then my leg is moving with the confidence of the agama lizard, taking on old allegiances and crushing them with the grace of the peacock.
I hesitated when I found it. That was not because my summer rose was inferior to the others. It seemed a sin to touch one so beautiful and untainted. And I was loath to be a cheat. As enchanted as I was by the strokes and the curls of your finish, I drew away. The green grass ripe for harvest called to me. I strode away knowing I never escaped your grip. The traveler’s curse isn’t that he is either away from home or that he has nowhere to call home. It is that once or twice in his life he is rudely reminded of the little, tiny droplets of that place he once called home. Did I not see you painted with the clouds? Did I not see you in the sands of the desert? Did I not see the blazing sunset speak your name so softly I was left speechless? But that first touch after the first was quite difficult. I feared for you. I feared I would hold your spine so tightly it would crush you. I feared I would smother you and then leave you when the freshness was gone. Tender roses seemed unfit for my calloused palms.
My love song. It isn’t as pretty and as seamless as I would have had it. And that’s because I didn’t want my summer rose to possess me at first. I was the moon you shone on. Your light poured the shine I radiated for the moonlit play of the earth’s young. I would like to say it was your enchanted smile or your cascading laughter. I would have liked to say it was your caring gaze and simple but bold beauty. I might have pointed at your welcoming embrace and your lingering kiss; at the warmth of your presence and the easing softness of your friendly stare. And I might have said it was the comfort I found in your eyes that made me stop again. I would have said the fears were gone the instant I saw you. But that would be another’s song. And I will sing you my own song for you, summer rose.
The fears were there when I stopped before you, wondering if the quiet smile in my eyes was love. My fears were there when I looked at the stars to decipher what your own smiles said. When our locked gazes lingered, the warmth from our common space was what taught me to step sideways and pluck lovingly at your sculpted stem. The warmth here melts the fear away. On this other homecoming, this one done without fanfare and panache, this homecoming to the home that always was; on this other homecoming,
Is this enough to say I always loved you?

Thursday, 24 November 2016

What Love is

It’s easy to like friends and develop a fancy for your peers. It’s also pretty easy to like those who root for you. They cheer you on and believe in you when the next turn isn’t very clear to you. They are worth liking, loving etc.
If you know the 30 keys to attracting the right partner, you probably know you should dress nice, act nice, be nice and then throw in some seduction. Get a hook. Make it large if you’re looking for a huge catch. Get your hook coated in your sedu-oil and place it where Big Fish is likely to make an appearance. If he/she bites, kablam! Congrats baby, you got a catch. Sometimes you undress your prize only to find out it was the smallest of fishes dressed in unending layers of armors of insecurity and low self-esteem.
Selfish desires aren’t signs of love. They are not. Reciprocating goodness is praiseworthy. If the entire world would simply do this our world would be unrecognizable. There won’t be Hitlers, Mussolinis and politicians. That’s enough to turn the world right side up. However, reciprocating isn’t even love. Love is so much more.
Love is the old father who although made mistake after mistake and doubted for years still became the father of many nations and the progenitor of the Jewish race. Love was what forgave his wrongs, smoothed them out and straightened him up. Then love gave him more than he could ever ask for. That is love. Love is the father reaching out to his young who had squandered a third of his wealth, kissing him, welcoming him and giving him an inheritance even before he apologized for the one he lost. Love waited out for him, forgave him before he asked, reinstated him without caring or asking questions of him. Love is Jesus in the midst of the Pharisees, the guilty adulteress before him. The shame was fresh in her eyes. She was caught in the very act of adultery. The verdict was death by stoning and she knew it. It was neither her first time nor a random act. It was her lifestyle. Love is Jesus is going beyond the Law. “Woman,” he said, “I do not condemn you. You are both innocent and free.” Love did not mind her lifestyle. Love gave her a chance. Love looked beyond what others saw and gave her what she sorely needed- hope and affirmation. Her life became a huge testimony.
Love is this: you are guilty of sin and wrongdoing and ought to be punished for it. But someone came along and paid the price for you. You weren’t good when he did it. You don’t need to be good for it to be true. He did it without paying attention to you. Love is the scene on the Day of Final Accounting. You ought to stand before the Judge but you won’t. Others who did what you did will jolly well go to hell but you won’t. Isn’t this unfair, you ask, that the Judge will let criminals go free and declare them innocent? No, it is not. It isn’t unfair, it is love.
Love is this: nothing is asked or required of you. Absolutely nothing! Love is free. And love isn’t about what you can do. It’s about what has been done for you. Love is the Gift God gave humanity. There was nothing bigger to give so He gave Himself- all of Himself.
This love doesn’t ask you to do. Don’t do, only believe.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016


If you would ask me
Before glowing frangipanis
And this tittering fireplace
If you would ask me one last time
What love is
I will not point to tanned crumpled sheets
where this initiation was sealed
Or to crammed attics
and mementoes from that chance meet
Or remind you of countless shared
soft, quick whispers and
heady, intoxicating giggles
I will not speak anymore
Only clasp your hand forever
Without malice or fear