Sunday, July 24, 2011

Poem for Sunday

Ogaga Ifowodo is criminally slept-on. Something that jumps out at you at every poem of his (my favorite is Homeland) is his use of imagery. He makes you want feel it all, like tiny earthquakes in your head. If you must rhyme a poem, this is how it must be done.

And those final lines "Unmarked days quench their suns, black into nights/ and dreams enact weighted hearts in free flights".... the music of that. Goodness.

This one's a favorite from his wonderfully-titled collection God Punish You, Lord Lugard.

Unmarked Hours Beat their Hands Against the Wall

Unmarked hours beat their hands against the wall

grieve for wings plunged in a waterfall.

Outside the window, a woman's shoulders

quake in tribute to a scene of soldiers:

teeth, fragments of flesh in warm blood painted

the picture she sees of those that fainted.

A single call to prayer, amplified

to all of Sin Town, brings mortified

legions to banal rites of righteousness.

As the minister swears his piousness

birds blessed with greater freedom flee our skies

abandoning us to death and muted cries.

Philosophies of suffering dress the walls

of this cell, make the fate of dead seagulls

happier than of failed hearts that bled and wept:

"If men were God!" that mocked the cliff and leapt,

crying out their grief: "Let Nigeria end now!"

No one will inquire who, why or how,

an old or new decree has sanctified

all wrongs in duty personified.

Unmarked days quench their suns, black into nights

and dreams enact weighted hearts in free flights.

Ogaga Ifowodo

November 1997

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