Nigerian Poems


for Moremi, 1963

Earth will not share the rafter’s envy; dung floors
Break, not the gecko’s slight skin, but its fall
Taste this soil for death and plumb her deep for

Civilian and Soldier

My apparition rose from the fall of lead,
Declared, ‘I am a civilian.’ It only served
To aggravate your fright. For how could I
Have risen, a being of this

Heavenly Father

Holy Father in heaven,
My parents have done enough,
But if I should think about their struggle and luckless,
It seems I should not grow old again.

They have till the

Land of Jesse

Dear land of Jesse
Upon the city of excellence and enterprise
There I heard the wailing of your children
Tremble like echo of antelope inside inferno

Shrieking voices: painful, tearful and

In the Small Hours

Blue diaphane, tobacco smoke
Serpentine on wet film and wood glaze,
Mutes chrome, wreathes velvet drapes,
Dims the cave of mirrors. Ghost fingers
Comb seaweed hair, stroke acquamarine veins

In Praise of Onikoyi

Tell them about an unflappable warrior
A warrior both at home and on the battlefield
The bird’s offspring on Ìrókò tree
Akalamagbo’s child with magical sight
One who walks ahead

Telephone Conversation

The price seemed reasonable, location
Indifferent. The landlady swore she lived
Off premises. Nothing remained
But self-confession. “Madam” , I warned,
“I hate a wasted journey – I am African.”<br

I think it rains

I think it rains
That tongues may loosen from the parch
Uncleave roof-tops of
the mouth, hang
Heavy with knowledge

I saw it raise
The sudden cloud, from ashes.

The War is Over

Drum of war is still and silent like coma,
Tears mob the land and rent homes apart,
The velocity of their echoes
Travelled far beyond the seas,
Our heroes, the

Procession I – Hanging day

Hanging day.
A hollow earth
Echoes footsteps of the grave procession.
Walls in sunspots
Lean to shadow of the shortening morn.

Behind an eyepatch lushly blue.
The wall of prayer has

Rain Magic

Gentle breeze is the father of rain,
Soft wind is the father of cloudburst,
Rain will not drench me today;
Rain will pack its belongings and go away.
The antelope

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