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Two Poems

By Rasaq Malik Gbolahan

Tuesday, 29 January 2013.


            (For Odia Ofeimun and a few other revolutionary poets)

when time comes to market their secrets at the village-square,
the pot of our tales won’t elope with the sea of treachery.

when twilight signals the time to tattoo their eyes with blood,
the route to the sanctuary will grow weeds.

they say we speak to the herbalists, at the shrines, on the streets,
they say we spit words like a sparrow, even more than the sparrows.

the elders of this land say we are rude,
that our lineage resembles that of a child
whose ears are dumb to the lyrics of the night,
drumbeats of the gods,
of an eagle whose wings rival the sky,
of a tree whose root mocks the flood
they say we know
not the meanings of what we say
that our tongues carry curses
and our palms are charms-laden, we can’t carry the flag of freedom.

when time comes to shame their presence,
the gong of tales won’t deafen our ears.

they say we sing song that breaks the tie of unity
unity? unity when they dress lies and shames around
and they send our children to early graves,

their proverb reads “the son must go before his father’

the elders say we sing anthem that makes them “go crazy,
and we dare warders at prison-gates, with words, nothing
but words, they say we welcome the waves of bullets
and the grave is but a revolutionary place for us, to descend
back on them and their children.

when time comes to bury the dreams of their plot
may they wander on the streets of dirges.


We pledge to this city,
With promises of guns, and subsidy
Who dares question us?

We smoke the city with flames of bombs,
And we lodge bullet inside every groin.

Here, we pocket bones around,
So we may drum with them when time comes to sing.

  We sit on the skulls of dead men,
And we send their children on errand when dusk carpets
the sky with darkness.

We fuel eyes
Of the “commoners” with tears,
We tickle their ears with knives, so they will hear tales,
Of how we share communal belongings,
How we send our families
On tours, to Britain, Iraq and Finland.

We smoke the city with bombs,
And the flame of death dances on, on the streets,
On the bridges.

We sing song that fences their ears,
We mock them, we rule the world!

Rasaq Malik Gbolahan is one of Nigeria and Africa's emerging literary voices. He is working on the publication of Drowining Pages, which is his first poetry collection.

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