FOR A TOKEN OF SHAME

What manner of peace senseless wars bring?
When the unity in hovering vultures man’s discord springs
While each enemy gets slain to the ground
Upon our woeful heads, vultures wear their crowns

But the lion that feeds on its cubs
Shall wrestle the jungle alone

When we become weary of burying
We begin to rare vultures for turkeys
They shall rid the earth of sticky carcasses
And as well rid our stomachs of gluttony

But the lion that feeds on its cubs
Shall wrestle the jungle alone

For a token of shame
We traded our wretched names
With gittery dancing tongues
We licked it off the wall of fame

But the lion that feeds on its cubs
Shall wrestle the jungle alone

 

Alpha E. Y. 2018©

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CONFESSION

My hand trembles in writing
It isn’t the weariness of my age
I am only getting used to elegies
While you walked away
I saw the mighty sun wash away
I hear pale death visits poor men
Equally it sleeps at the king’s door
It is no rhetorics of the pen
Even my days in a hurry fade to dusk
My sunken eyes see life’s empty rust
Tell me in brave rhythm of words
The absence of heavy-laden grief
Even if there be jostling and congestion
Find a place for my weary soul to fill
This home is no longer fit for me

Alpha E. Y. 2018©

PAUPER’S HONOUR

Every single leaf we smoke for opium
To wade across the river of shame
Yet, we lurch through every mire
Seven times; a mirage for Jordan River
Even our conscience is hypnotized
By the alluring thirst of the forbidden fruit
Alas! There shall come the Master’s call
What leaf, shall hide Adam’s fall?
But to squabble for shredded petals
That withers in the scorching sun
Not a bloom, will glow at dusk
It is a land where crickets creak:
“Screak, screech” all that they see
Where will be our haven
For the stars have eyes that twinkle
Nature’s beauty was not made to wrinkle
Upon the epitaph of Madiba’s tomb
We worshipped with the tip of our tongues
With deep reverence to the Pauper’s honour
That it will be our only fortress!
When one day, the golden robes
Forsake our wretched skins.

Alpha E. Y. 2018©

DIALOGUE at the GRAVE

Terungwa, his little brother cries out to him from behind. The helplessness from his younger brother’s voice pushes his face to the distant skies, as though some answers awaited him. Mocked by the vastness of the empty space above, Sesugh bows his dolorous shame to the dampness of his shirt. The shirt will soak every agony from his heart, for as long as his eyes can pour. “I’ll wipe my tears with my left hand and hold you tight with my right,” he said with a broken voice. He stammers more words, not quite clear this time, just in symphony with his brother’s wailing. “don..t wo, wo… rry”, he forces out the words but Terungwa cuts him short, “Baba yeee, Mama yeee” he wails, wagging his mouth wide to divert the cascades of tears from his cheeks, lining down his little jaw.

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Sesugh holds his brother tight as they force their way through the mammoth of crowd that gathered round the grave. He needs to make it to the frontline, in order to identify the remains of his parents to his younger brother. He owes his little brother the allegiance of reconnecting him with their parents, though lifeless. It could be a family reunion of some sort. He cannot tell if they will hear him or not, but his sweat, mixed with tears will ascend to heaven. When it drops on the earth, a seed will surely germinate. For such are the significance of children.
The news of the attack had flared like wild fire in the village. With no such civilization as a morgue anywhere within miles from the village, the burial had to be done to rid the village of unpleasant odour and gory memories of the deceased. It is easy to observe that it isn’t just solidarity for the bereaved that has pulled out this much crowd, but everyone who is affected has at his disposal, the last pass to see their beloved. Such is the mission of little Terungwa and his elder brother, Sesugh.
He manages to jostle through the crowd but could not progress in his quest. The pile of corpses appeared too numerous for his teary eyes to seek through. The dark and thick blood clothed over each dismembered body part created more blurriness to his sight. As if to understand his predicament, little Terungwa forces out curiosity from Sesugh’s back, pushing high his neck to see which he can identify for himself. He gazes confusedly at the lifeless bodies but found no traces of his parents. They are all scrambled to be formed into any human identity; the only depiction of such reality for Terungwa and Sesugh would have been at the abattoir where animals are butchered without regards.

Alpha E. Y. 2018 ©

WHEREFORE WITH HEAVY HEARTS?

 

Wherefore with heavy hearts
We March onwards to man’s woeful end
We become a burden for Earth to carry
Every step swallows us into its volcanic bowels
But how can the spider be too heavy for her web?

Wherefore with heavy hearts
We bury the last of our slain brothers
The earth becomes a woven net
Every step slips us into its pores
The birds can no longer perch

Wherefore with a heavy heart
I wave from my unbroken tomb
I shall remember the hours of departure
I to die and you to live
Which is better? God, only knows
Alpha E. Y.  2018©

FATAL LOSS OF MEMORY

Of all the follies of man, the one that lures you to a quick and woeful end is the loss of memory. You become completely removed from life and even insignificant to the air you breathe. You are only floating to the ground like a falling leaf whose remains awaits to be desiccated by the sun; no fossils to be accounted for!
Compatriots! We stopped sniffing our nostrils of the tears we sobbed from the treachery of our kings who sold their brothers to be slaves. While the tears on your face brought you joy, here is a short account of the memories we lost:
As we watched the Mayflower
Vanish into the bowels of the dark Atlantic,
We waved with a smirk;
With it we bid farewell
To the best human treasures
Africa would never regain,
Oblivious of the material treasures
That have gone before.

When most African States gained their independence, many rejoiced in euphoria that trickled out tears from the depths of hearts. The multitude that welcomed Nelson Mandela on the other side of his tunnel, after a long enduring walk to freedom, can be likened to an awakening that meant new flowers would spring from the morning’s bloom. The joy of having to decide who wins elections in new emerging democratic states could only be likened to the rear privileges of deciding who fathers you. In such choices, you would make sure it is one who is fatherly enough; one who feels your pains, one who would sleep in the rains for your sake, and if need be, one who would let go his last breath for your kind to manifest the fruition of your essence.
With such leverage at the disposition of Africans, one would think that the economic gains and values from the Kilimanjaro Mountains, the bustling oil wells of the Ogoni Lands, the fertilizing caves of the Gold Coast to the unending bounties of the never-fallow vegetation of Africa would repay the lost glory of the deflowered maiden of the world. One would have thought that the plights and afflictions of the victims of Mayflower expeditions will throw out blows to the conscience of African leaders. Pathetically, we threw all that into the abyss, only to reckon with the words of Mahatma Gandhi as thus: “we won our freedom but lost our people”. Consequently, we are still perplexed by our choices because the beautiful ones are probably not yet born. In fact, the franchise we got became our predicament.
The history of Nigeria and perhaps Africa is no doubt filled with horrors and gory pictures when narrated sincerely. It is best described as what James Joyce says in Ulyssys as thus: “History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” Probably, the horrors have made us look the other way, despising the irritation of its soreness. The unbended truth still remains that, no society thrives socially, politically or even economically without keen regards to the narratives that brought it to its current stage. Not even Mother Nature; for the last time the iroko tree forgot its root, it came down crashing in the forest.
It should be recalled that our kings who traded the strength of classical African civilization for frail dividends, left the continent to the dire consequence of imperialism. Dan Brown explains this bitter truth to us in the following caption:
“History is always written by the winners. When two cultures clash, the loser is obliterated, and the winner writes the history books-books which glorify their own cause and disparage the conquered foe…”
It was negligence of history that gave us out to slavery in the guise of colonialism. It made us slaves twice on our own lands! As it flourished, every single beauty that Africa beheld was downplayed in colonial literatures. So that if you read such without reference to postcolonial discourses that argued otherwise, you are bound to think theories such as craniology and the likes were God-ordained. This deliberate misinterpretation/alteration of the African history placed the continent on the tip of a poisonous arrow aimed to be fired into the zodiac of oblivion. George Orwell dovetails with this position when he says that the most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.
With these travails not farfetched, it still bothers on us how easily we jettisoned our memories, only to wake up to a replicated quagmire where the same plot glares us in the face, pricks our follicles and stabs us on the back. Our lack of will to a viable revolution is to say the least. The blind and cheap support we heap on irresponsible political office holders brings to fore the simple proof that we have not learnt to count our losses. We are simply a people waiting for our miserable end in the cycle of our own carelessness as Edmund Burk puts it “those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” Chant this in whichever rhythm that soothes your soul, Africa and Nigeria has come to stay and the sustenance of their glory is on your shoulders; you are part of it!

God bless Nigeria and God bless Africa!

Alpha Enoch Yamush 2018©

Vuli Ndlela

                Life never chooses when to start nor stop. It goes on and halts just when no one is watching. It tells you there is a solid ground beneath your feet and the next minute, you are sinking in your own carelessness. A faint instinct tells you to beat your chest with a braggadocio of ‘no regrets!’ but somehow, your hand freezes in the air. It sees through your ribs, the weight of the shame you inherited, growing at the expense of your dying breath.

             I see it clearly in the darkness, as it strangles his neck into dark scattered wrinkles. He is breathing heavily but not so fast. I hear the heavy tick of each second parting his next breath. Each pause, comes with a sniffing silence that closes the distance between him and breathlessness. Staring at him now, gradually being stolen by the distance to eternity, no nostalgia of his agile days could beckon out to him, make him turn to the widening distance between us and look at me. If it were possible to have him turn, I am sure tears of regret would line down every trace of his wrinkled face, consumed by an endless queue of choices he would have made otherwise.

            The cocks are crowing already and he has been lying down in front of me since the chimes on the clock jingled 12 A.M. Faced up, his legs spread apart on the dusty mat almost loosed to shreds. The horizontal lines appear slacked from their fittings. Only the vertical lines stretched, so that, the mat’s length is still noticed.

             He raises his head slowly to see my dark image buried in the night. ‘You don’t have to say it out, it is all over now.’ I broke out courageously and nodding my head in conformity, all in a bid to man up a little hope in him. He must not know my tears betray me too. Fruitless as this proved, my heavy sniveling punctuated the silence that filled the dark room. ‘Dear Lord! Vuli Ndlela,’ let him rest, I whispered, splashing out little drops of tears that now lingered on my lips.

 

Alpha E. Y. 2018