We present this work in honor of the 10th anniversary of the poet’s death.
I can still recall their laughter As they spoke of ‘lost virtue’. I, Obiajunu I have learned to live in scarcity.
So, cautiously, i choose my steps labouring up the steep hill bearing on my head in a clay pot the spring’s very last drop
but from the bushes a sweet melody streams forth and fills my ears disarming tantalising
and the body is tempted to sway leading the feet off the straight path
and the eyes are tempted to stray to find the source the giver of temporal joy
but i must hold fast my pot of spring water
Though the seller of clay pot never makes the ‘customer’ though the carrier of clay pot be the mother of an only son and though this tune vibrating in my ears tempts me to dance to sway my hips in unison with it beguiling
yet i cannot lose it this stem this prop
i have laboured up this hill through toil and sweat and i cannot spill it this water so pure so clear and sweet the dying spring’s last drop
i obianuju i shall provide my children with plenty i shall multiply this drop they will never taste of the wasted fluid of the sea
Boundless For when we were Young and playful, Our joyous laughter Rang out echoes through Every street, Enlivened by our boundless Youthfulness.
For when we were Young and playful, We would jump buses Standing or moving, Ticketless to nowhere And everywhere, Knowing no limits, Knowing no particular Place to get off.
For when we were Young and playful, I met a stranger then, Caring little about His looks, Just being young Curious and fearless On a moving empty London bus, But for us restless Young and playful ones, Filling up, No, Taking over an Empty London bus To make life anew, Posing, loving us And strangers in Boundless youthfulness, Knowing not, Caring little What we were, What we are Going to become.
She was the nameless woman who created images of her children sold away from her. She suspended her wood babies from a rope round her neck, before she ate she fed them. Touched bits of pounded yam and plantains to sealed lips, always urged them to sip water. She carved them of wormwood, teeth and nails her first tools, later she wielded a blunt blade. Her spit cleaned faces and limbs; the pitch oil of her skin burnished them. When woodworms bored into their bellies she warmed castor oil they purged. She learned her art by breaking hard rockstones. She did not sign her work.
A tear drop alights From a car that crosses my eye And stops Behind a light that embodies red And then drops into bumps and coughs And pulls a hand break Stop! Like a light that turns amber When the street is quiet
If I don’t run away In these high heels To the last light Someone would want to give me a ride With hands that go green like a bud in my eyes And then blow cigarette smoke Into my eyes
At oldest moon the tanker is aimed at shore and scuttled like a much smaller thing; its prow cocked in the unnatural questioning of a carcass head; its waterlines, doing marked done. Empty oil-barrels thrown to sea, herded to shore, then the loosest fittings, then steeliest ego-structure: all parts can be turned to mutiny in the end. In the hull’s darkness a man, as taken as Jonah, falls off a girder and ends forty feet below, straddling a crossbeam that splits his pelvis in two.
We present this work in honor of the poet’s 25th birthday.
The announcement Swung blunt as an axe-blow: All students were to leave Campus as soon as possible.
We think we cried, Our brains bleached blank. We were already trying to forget What we would live. What we would give.
Beware the ides of March. We recognized that something ran Rampant as a rumor Among our ranks. Cases bleeding closer, Like spillage in a napkin.
There is nothing more worrisome Than a titan who believes itself Separate from the world.
Graduation day. We don’t need a gown. We don’t need a stage. We are walking beside our ancestors, Their drums roar for us, Their feet stomp at our life. There is power in being robbed & still choosing to dance.
We present this work in honor of the poet’s 60th birthday.
I overcome because I am overwhelmed. I whip my life into shape, one tension, one bit of calm at a time, if I must I give back the distance I run, if I must I rise and cut something from myself.
I’ve arrived at this hour dragging my body from moment to moment. Surreptitiously I serve up wounded blood. The story I bear, how will you receive it? The water I’ve gathered makes itself heard. Here is the mother who keeps her child forever in her womb. And decides she will live, even as she drowns.