Poetry: David Oracle Onotu | Eve of Iska (for Cyprian Ekwensi)

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My mother is a woman,

sometimes she fancies herself super human.

My father is a man,

restrictions endued him with strange powers

 

Miracles choke our world,

blessings litter the streets.

God has been good

though to his miniatures

evil is irresistible.

 

One thing and another

In this way

We won’t lose the other

 

I have brothers,

the number of fingers

on my right hand.

I have a good sister,

I wish her well.

 

Sometimes I am the messiah

Other times I am a foul thing nailed to a cross.

That is why I pray

when no one is watching,

and if I cry my tears must not be seen

 

I am the laughing prince,

I am the minstrel man,

with eyes always dancing,

and heart often merry.

It is this that makes me fear,

this other side that none can see

 

Nietzsche and his heroes

were too flamboyant.

I do not have such courage.

If Taban, and Tutuola, and Fanon, and Soyinka

were medieval eunuchs,

I would find a wife for Langston Hughes

 

There are those

whose name remain in books,

and many whose deeds may rust with age.

 

Not that we do not fight,

we are the best of warriors,

we wield a sword

that drips off ink;

but the magnitude of time,

the potent potions of age

strengthens the sphinx

 

When we search for the

inter-phase,

when we aim

for the blink,

the cord,

When we run and dig

and run again,

and hope to find

ourselves in a shattered mirror

With the pieces still hinged

 

Everyone longs to breaks the jinx of living,

so we trouble calm waters,

and distort the image of light, of sun,

and grope wide-eyed.

How must we accomplish

this Trojan feat,

when we drink corrupted blood

from the chalice of purity?

 

If we scoop living waters

with leprous palms?

show me the magic of

needle, of thread,

of breaking and wholeness.

 

Let Einstein calculate the

space between the arrows

and the heels of Achilles.

Let Afonja summon the army

letZazzau arraign its finest archers.

 

Without the epicureans,

and their hedonist ideologues

we will wait

the cavalries from Sudan.

Not all must witness,

but all must be present,

some are too blind to see

 

Let priests stand aside,

the funeral will be soon,

Children may not know

when they grow,

it will be too sudden,

like an arrow from a bow

Sophocles is a tragedian,

Ola Rotimi found a mentor

 

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This art is wearisome,

it is a stolen good,

for Arthur Miller’s Sales Man.

Say penance for the Marxists,

let’s toast to the Machiavellian,

and become literary Al Capons

hacking up one another,

Capisce!

I do not see the reason why

Negritude

or not!

Tigritude

or what!

Leftists or otherwise,

it seem a trade

and the capitalists

are advantaged;

but this earth

the meek is sure to inherit.

 

Balaam’s ass may speak,

even time overcomes muteness,

but how can we hear

the melodious chuckles

of withheld rain?

Only in our dreams

in the lurid fantasies we

desperately conjure

 

There is a man I like

he called us Iska, like the northern wind

that ebbs and swells,

and whirl and whirl,

and travels and quells

only to rise again.

 

I have waited this long

with the impatience of

Arabian vultures,

and middle eastern casualties

to flutter in the place

where eagles soar.

 

Every man has a flaw

tragic or another

that does not cause him to fall.

 

Coming and going

aren’t synonymous words

they only have things in common

this also may be the bond

between good and evil

white and black

and every other issue

whose similarities

nestle in their disparities.

 

It is not an easy knot to untie

not tangible or historical

like the Gordian travesty

 

It is a design in continuum.

A mad man

or one stricken with the fiercest delirium

will be solemnly advised

to mind his business

 

Byron was a prisoner of Kirikiri

he mistook it for chillon

after torture by savages

who knew nothing of Sartre,

and his famed maxim

against such extreme measures

so the homosexual lord

chewed up his contemporaries

Cowley and Coleridge

knew what literary brutality meant.

 

The loom

From which this

Intricacy was woven

may not be found

at the superstore

maybe in dreams

like that of martin Luther

 

Preparatory men

Nietzsche averred

did he rob time?

ten years of genius

or did time rob the genius

of ten years,

where should our prodigies

draw the line?

 

3

Ben Okri

have subtle things in common

with the author

of the Alter-native

and I suppose all writers do.

 

Despite his striving

Sedar was vilified,

and Cesaire obscured

 

I would crawl away

and hide in a niche

like an unknown specie

in Darwin’s lab

lest I be accused of

self expression

and too much

un-reason-able opinion.

Should I apologize if you do not understand?

Nein! That is the joy

of my persistent weaving,

the soul of my ceaseless pleas.

I am a rebel.

I am loyal and faithful.

I am a flame.

I am the sun and now

I am a wingless thing

under an African twilight,

Sorry I meant literal moonlight.

 

Tafawa Balewa square 1960,

a celebration of unbridled

independence with the national treasury.

This was what Wiwa saw

he spoke loudly, too loudly,

and was hung before we could intervene,

by those who parade Guns and helmets

 

How come we were rescued?

by an ex-jailbird, my apologies

the farmer from Otta

was it in the plot?

or a trick of the puppeteer

anyway cheers

 

In the gardens of Chinua Achebe

A purple hibiscus grew.

It is a totem that this generation

have more things to offer,

than discolored flowers

or the bisected yellowness

of a complete sun.

 

No one wants to set forth at dawn.

dusk seem more profitable,

if you know how to outsmart your fellow.

This is the life,

the honeycomb of my title,

writers and bad politicians

were only happenstance

I speak of eves the world over

I think of blinks,

and ignored monumental transitions,

the stirrings of revolt, of change.

 

If like Gandhi, you boast of clairvoyance,

and visions of future times

What you do now will make you foolish or wise.

I say it is not in our powers

to conclude our end; like Ghadafi we are only actors

not playwrights. Leave out the poets,

like lost UFOs they meander

Through a different planet

 

© David Oracle Onotu

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