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Poetry of Africa
 
 

Poems by KONYE OBAJI ORI

Crying "Africa"

Once the color of the night,
graced with starry skies

The full moon left little to wonder
of the morning sunrise
Then we were singing "Africa."

Lightning flashes struck our clouds
and raging thunders burst open
the sky and let the rains pour.

We are flooded in austerity; we flow
scrambling for support,
tramping over one another for a gasp.

The current of diseases and hunger
washes us away. We slop in the
tides of corruption and war.
And as we are washed,
we flounder and we cry "Africa."

Shivering like sparrows in winter
we are thrown from side to side
like trees, dancing unwillingly to
the music of the wind

Bruised on rocks and stunted tree roots
As we drift helplessly in the flood;
Choking, wailing, crying "Africa."

I built a poem

I gathered words like a carpenter his woods,
some to denote and some to connote.
I gathered them from the register of that that I confer.

I gathered words that could be seen, heard and smelt.
Words that had taste and words that could be felt.
Words that carried sensation and words that could move.

And with figurative language like with a hammer,
I nailed the words together.

I hit the nail on its head cacophonously
and euphoniously by its sides to
produce a rhythm
I chiseled the ends to make them rhyme.
I measured the lines in tetrameters.

I carved them into stanzas
I sandpapered it through, with my eyes
and blew away wood-dust particles that
kept it from shining,.
I ran my palms over it, to feel its smoothness.
I was done.
I had built a poem.

The coat of arms.

It is as though,
that black shield that once protected us
from the spears of dearth
is rusted and shattered-
And now those spears pierce flesh and bones

It is as though,
those sparkling rivers of golden pearls
that once met in lokoja, whispering life
with every dancing tide
now meet in lokoja just to wash down to delta

It is as though,
the eye seducing garden field
where white horses once stood-
plump, pinkish brown pigs now stand
fore-arms- supporting that shattered shield
and their snouts prying around the wreath of that life giving soil

They trample on the Costus Spectabilis with their hooves;
hurting the beauty of the terra-firma
as they struggle to stand upright in the pose like horses

It is as though,
a scrawny vulture with brownish measly feathers
has taken the place of the red eagle
that has flown away; southward

And it is as though,
the faces of unity, faith, peace and progress
are covered in pig dung.

 
Secret of the Sun

Raised by the bare bones of nature's grace,
my home held hands with the feral forest,
where nature hid her gold.

I have heard palm trees whisper their stories
I have listened to the silent full moon quietly teach
lessons of those who had lived.
I know of the green secrets of the earth
Soft voices of searching roots that sprout forth, cluster
around my hut to tell.

I am from the bowels of Africa,
I understand the tongue of the wild.
I have swayed to the blue songs of humming birds that fill the
tree branches with their nests.
I have had breakfast plucked ripe off the tree
and lunch caught right from the river.
I have aimed a stick in the forest and secured supper.

I am from the bowels of Africa,
where nature's breast milk flows from palm trees
and every suckle leaves a smile on wrinkled ebony faces.

I am from the bowels of Africa,
I have seen rains held up at the summons of wooden carved gods.
women foretell events of the next day, and men
hear voices of elders long dead.

I am from the bowels of Africa
I am carolled to dreamland by
crickets, frogs and fireflies
that mime nature's song at night fall

I am from the bowels of Africa,
I am the dark secret held by the sun

 

African night

I lay there on that rat-shredded raffia mat;
my thoughts running through the bush paths
to meet my dreams at the bottom of the Iroko tree.

Full moon comes and goes,
I still lay on that mat staring at agama lizards creeping
up and down the bamboo sticks that hold my mud hut up.
Hope sneaking away like smoke from the burning fire woods
through the holes in the thatch roof of mother's kitchen

I am like a tilapia fish roasting
on the woods of time, In the heat of harmattan

I am deaf to the sounds of
talking drums and crying wooden flutes
that play me to our ancestors
in high notes on traditional clefs.
Sightless to the heart melting site of
naked pot-bellied children
laughing and playing in the mud

I push the burning fire woods together under the steel tripod stand
and splints of fire, fly to the air like in a performance to cheer me up

my dreams have uprooted the Iroko tree
but my reflection in the eyes of reality hasn't changed,

I have learnt to chew with content
when boiled yam, dipped in palm oil meets with my watering tongue,

The man drinking palm wine and breaking kola nuts with
my father in his thatch roof hut after a long day in the yam farm
lights a picture of me painted on the walls of tomorrow

At mid night when the moon smiles down
And when we gather to sing and dance;

I dance until my hope is tired
and until my dreams lay down to sleep;
to sleep through that long and vibrant African night.

 

Poems by: Konye Obaji Ori (University of Indianapolis)
Address:9 Ipitou building, Syntagma 10557 Athens, Greece.
Tel: +30-6934924029

Email: konyeori@yahoo.com

 
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