Archive for May, 2012

Under size and over size

Size matters,

big good, bigger better

and this hunch back mind frame

begotten of  the cult of quantity

slowly overruns and over turns sense

the ramparts of value breached

size soon deforms, corrupts

Our world staggers,

drunk, awash with situations

Teary, tearing and tiring

where the over size bank account nourishes

the under size conscience,

shrinking and wilting

values lost, morals flown, soul in slow decay

 

nearby, the lad with the over sized chest,

six packs and biceps in riot

muscle bound, more bran bland

brain draining blank

Size defines all, limits him,

The lure and the law of the raw,

Brute force supreme

the beauty in the simple lost

in simple equations of the big

with good, more with best

his undersize emotions

seek solace but suffocate

In the heaving over scented bosom of the lass

mammary implant  oversize,

her ever enlarging wardrobe

celebrating waste,

happily co-habiting with her shrivelling soul

the well glossy manicured nails

contrast with the growing dirt

and darkening gloom within

that houses a withering mind, 

and a soul that festers

 

In wide and poorly lit corridors

politicians jostle around

with their over -size vocabulary

their obese ambitions and hypertrophied egos

undeterred by their under size self-knowledge

atrophied and stunted consciences

feed and are fed upon by that hunger

that always eats up the entrails,

never abating, the spiritual bankruptcy

despite fat bank accounts

the social void, the empty vision

the oedema of the malnourished conscience

condemned to always seep of a sop, 

that creates more thirst,

forces more drinking to forever drink and know no satiation

and drunk and drowned in that soggy sop that empties

and drowns the voice of reason and compassion

slowly making a victim of the misguided assumed victor

while the sad world rolls on

the loud voice of size

drowns the persistent appeals of sense,

of quality and eternal values

**** I wrote this song some time back as I worried over the situation in my country where greed and materialism had almost succeeded in snuffing out all sane values.

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A song for IDPs

A song for IDPs

by Noel Ihebuzor

(For BOSSASO and other  IDPs)

 

Hope lies here poorly shriveled and shriveling,

withered and withering

once high hopes now desiccated dry

the hot tropical sun sits on the dying camp

oppressive and roasting, quickening rot,

a constant rain of dry dust flows

roams freely in this place of captivity

slowly drying and dimming the voices of the trapped dying living

 

Do you hear their voices, can you touch their pain, feel their shame

do you care to listen, do we dare to hear, care to share

do we need a third eye to see, a second tongue to speak up

 

 

No water runs here as life slowly runs out

no food grows here, despair bounds and grows,

this place of rock and stones arid

by a sea that rolls, simmers and boils

 

This place bursting at its seam with suffering in the sweltering

scorching suffocating heat

betrays the jungle in the hearts of men and women

for there is no logic to this place, no sense it

 

Good sense departed so many moons ago

care and compassion suffocated and hope now orphaned

The animal in us runs raw, ragged, ranting and dimming all sanity,

rages, savages, pillages in a sad presage of the triumph of the beast

 

Do you hear their voices, can you touch their pain, feel their shame

do you care to listen, do we dare to hear, care to share

do we need a third eye to see, a second tongue to speak up

 

 

Mothers and females, forlorn drag around their feeble frames

full of fear in this fiery place, haunted by fear

humiliated by hunger, haunted by anxiety

sagging flesh sits ugly awkward on tired bones

violated mothers their pride sold to nourish those they once suckled

suffer the chuckle and derision of their temporarily satiated invaders,

armed predators chuckle as victims hide their shame

and their pain in sphinx-like empty stares

hoping against hope that they caught nothing else

in the unequal exchange

 

 

Do you hear their voices, can you touch their pain, feel their shame

do you care to listen, do we dare to hear, care to share

do we need a third eye to see, a second tongue to speak up

 

 

 

Fathers and sons sit around sullen

avoiding each others’ gaze

hiding their fear and shame and hate

wedded to woes and wants

souls trapped, feeling man-less and impotent,

empty yet full and over running with rage

in this cauldron, hatred and anger cook, slowly, simmering

raw rage grows and fills every crevice

in bitter emptied dried out souls

 

Outside and beyond, the voices of good intentions, of

actors and reactors, benefactors and beneficiaries mesh

while the victims die in large numbers

their groans and hisses drone on

and are drowned by distance

 

Do you hear their voices, can you touch their pain, feel their shame

do you care to listen, do we dare to hear, care to share

do we need a third eye to see, a second tongue to speak up

 

 

The shrivelling thinning hair on the enlarged heads of children,

Fontanels fallen in

sad sullen eyes, empty sucked into large sinking sockets,

wrinkling, flaking aging skins, bursting balloon bellies

enlarged heads sit ugly on tiny martian-like necks

frames as if of new born lambs adorn once chubby children, all

announcing ungainly early return trips and escape from this place

where fear is fertile

 

Flies buzz around, settling on the yellowish phlegm that ooze from nostrils

drawn by the foul stench and litter of littered humanity

of wasting and decaying humanity

 

Do you hear their voices, can you touch their pain, feel their shame

do you care to listen, do we dare to hear, care to share

do we need a third eye to see, a second tongue to speak up

 

 

Hope runs dry in these running noses,

in running temperatures and running stomachs

and soon the earth will take into its already distended bowels

these ungainly sacrifices and the earth is desecrated.

 

Do you hear their voices, can you touch their pain, feel their shame

do you care to listen, do we dare to hear, care to share

do we need a third eye to see, a second tongue to speak up

Or do we simply continue to stare

 

 

***** I wrote this poem when I worked in Somalia somne seven years ago and after visiting IDP camps in Bosasso in Puntland, NE somalia and in Hargeisa. This particular sad song was triggered by the human misery I saw in those camps as we struggled to bring help and hope to victims of human folly! I saw the same misery in eastern DRC when I worked there!  Noel

 

if distances were not as long as dark, lonely nights: a duet

 

By Susan Daniels and Noel Ihebuzor

Noel:  If distances were not as long as dark lonely nights

Susan:  The callous earth sees to it
that even our nights and days
oppose one another;
but, let us ignore laws of geography and physics
for this moment, and meet.

Noel:  If feet could leap distances
ferried and nourished by fertile faith
if minds could travel long distances to their longings

Susan:  Then I would fly to you, heedless of gravity, and mocking it;
the sky, neither night or day where we would answer each other
would blush, rivaling the colors of dawn, or of sunset,  at our defiance
of the order of things, our audacity.

Noel:  If mind, soul and body could paddle silvery
in soft warm lagoons
in canoes invisible to the uninitiated

Susan:  Only light the way for us to find each other

Noel:  If the journey of exploration
was a journey into the deep self
one of discovery and recovery

Susan:  We would range farther
than the resonance of dream language,
sparks dancing past matter,
to a place where twin flames
recognize one other
and blend.

Noel:  Would these harsh beginnings
not signal new becomings
and perfection end points

if only we
you and I could kill present addiction
to birth a future full that whispers and beckons
if, if you could, if we could

Susan:  We would,
and in our waking walk together
generate something live
from these whispered ifs;
a pale hope, and fragile
unfurls into full-blown being;
yes, hope can dream and bring forth joy
as it breaks and buries bitterness.

Noel:  If we could reach within ,
to find that lock to unlock a door
that holds us prisoners,
bound and shackled,
then we would unlock us
this us that currently
glides and drifts, inviting,
suggesting

Susan:  Only unchain us,
that we might taste
even a tenth of what tempts us
into crossing these lines
of time, of space,
of who we are now
and who we could become.

 

***All I am going to say about this is wow, we did good duet, Susan!  Can’t think of anything else to add that wasn’t said above – well except, powerful!

Mother and child

At term, he took Ugonma in,

the taxi had rattled, creaked, bounced

and chugged on the dirt road, all the way

to the maternity

 

A midwife, looking fazed in her faded uniform

walked Ugonma

feet and lips swollen,

screaming in pain, water breaking,

into the labour room

every dragging step slow,

laboured  and painful

 

A wait long and weighty like eternity,

and then a delivery attendant,

her face the picture of nonchalance,

eventually shuffled out of the labour room

to thrust roughly  into his trembling hands

a list of  items required

for the delivery.

 

 

The Okada rider, his machine idling,

spotted Obi as he hurried out from the maternity

signing and screaming

“chemist shop”, yes, “chemist”

the rider on sensing his desperation

doubled his fare, cursing the country,

swerving and swearing as he rode.

.

Places and people flew by and past on that mad rush

to the chemist shop, an airless suffocating place

running over in dirt and disorder

where a a dishevelled male plied a messy trade.

 

Items purchased,

Obi rushed back to the maternity,

straining his ears, lips moving in silent prayers

his hands trembling,

items handed over with haste

the attendant checking with  indifference and

troubling sluggishness, and then shuffling back

into the delivery room with the items.

Obi waited outside, counting the minutes,

the seconds as long as hours and twice as slow ,

his heart pounding,

fatherhood within reach at last ,

after seven heavy years of wearying waiting

 

Totally immersed in imagining what must be going on inside,

waiting for the beautiful moment, oblivious to everything else

vaguely aware of when his mother and Ugonma’s mum arrived

and how they both laughed at his fretting and fidgeting

assuring him that all will be well

saying that “God never sleeps”

 

 

He saw the midwife as she came out,

her apron all blood and stains

saw her signal the two women to follow her

and now alone, he dreaded his loneliness

soon he thought he heard a wail

that came from the soul, the wail of one broken

They brought the baby to show him,

looking so small,  fragile and delicate

and when he asked after Ugonma

Her mum,  her voice brave, but broken by pain

yet tinged with pride said

“Ugonma has left this world, “uwa nsi”, she spat out

“a woman at last,

to the shame of those gossiping tongues

who had chattered that she was a “male””

God gives and God takes, she said

and when Obi said “why, Ogom nwanyi, why”, she replied

“a man can never wrestle with his god, his personal chi

nor challenge the decision of God”

His groan was deep and heart rending

his voice saying slowly, chilled  numb

“This death cannot be a decision of God,

we wrong God when we blame Him for our failures

as humans”

 

“Chim, sudden total darkness has fallen on my life at high noon,

a driving torrential downpour has caught me in the middle of nowhere,

blinding me, my path has now become a thicket of dense inpenetrable prickly shrubs”

 

he cried and sang, inconsolable, lost and broken

His mum laid her hands on him and said slowly

“a woman who can do this,

who can abandon a new born at the moment of birth

must be an “Ogbanje””

and his look of pain, rage and disgust froze her.

 

He called the baby Chiwetalu (Brought by God)

and at night when Chiwetalu screamed from hunger

when Chiwetalu cried,

troubled by gripe and colic from formula milk

his heart bled, he cried and held her

and rememered Ugonma and still asked her why

even though his age mates had warned him not to,

had advised him to reject any advances from her

if she walked into his dreams from the land of dead

They had advised him to wear two tight underwears to bed

as she may return to seduce him

and then tear off his manhood

since they all knew how much she loved him in life.

 

In Obi’s mother’s village,

an unmarried teenage girl had lost her  baby

to fever and diarrhoea

one month after delivery,

 

a girl lost,  Nwadiuto

who had now lost virtually everything

– her baby

– her innocence in a moment of madness,

– her schooling as she was expelled from school

once her pregnancy was noticed

– and the support of parents

who had thrown her out for disgracing them.

 

Her mother’s village proved to be her sanctuary

there they welcomed her, kind aunts helped her

manage her shame and the pains of pregnancy

 

Her mother frequently visited her there

whenever she thought her dad was not looking

(her tough and puritan dad saw all,

looked the other way, said nothing,

but silently thanked God that she did)

 

Now her chest full of grief and still sore from her loss

her breasts full, swollen and tender,

her life emptied of meaning and attachment

she agreed to nurse and breast feed Chiwetalu,

this life so fragile, so trusting

 

The hungry ruby lips needed some coaching and guiding

flesh and rubber feel and smell differently

but soon the hungry lips tugged and sucked at nipples

engorged, tender, touching her,

awakening her and flooding

her with images of her own child

who now sleeps forever

 

and Nwadiuto cries for him,

for a father he never knew and would never know

a man whose heat she had felt

but not his love nor his affection

regretting their brief interaction,

rushed and unfulfilling for her

 

She laments this and her loss

laments her parents

who further lost her

when they threw her out

when she felt most lost and needed them most

and occasionally when Chiwetalu cried from hunger

she would also think of his mother

that the hungry earth had claimed and swallowed

 

 

And from a distance,

heart still broken, but filled with gratitude to Nwadiuto,

Obi watches these two lives and surveys his

united by loss, by losses that could have been avoided

 

And he ponders how one life had in coming

taken another life,

how another young life had flown

emptied the life of a teenage mum

but leaving her full sorrow and milk

how that milk now bonded

two lives and a third

and His tears never cease to flow

from a mixture of missing, thanking and wishing.

 

*****First raw and rough cut of a song  that invaded me in its inchoate form, begging to trapped on paper. MMR and IMR are my targets here – and I now agree that overt didactism ruins creative writing. This shambolic song is one good example. OK, I pack it here for now and will come back to retouch it later, hopefully. Noel

When the keyboard stammers – a poem on slips and errors

Keyboard sudden sodden with stammer,
sodden fingers leaking, pressure and pleasure on fingers,
hydaulics, control valves and bubbling words and thoughts,
energy, all tumbling,  fluid dynamics and sublimal flows stabilising
internal riots, ordered entropy
a benign judas like affliction announcing good standing

so when next the keyboard stammers,
say no buts, not butts, not misskates, not errors
but errands from within butting into and jotting out
to the without, shy

******A poem by Susan, a wonderful poet and my duet partner, on slips and errors when we engage others through the medium of the keyboard prompted this poem, a poem that is more of an incoherent stammer than a statement or a theory of slips  – As we all know, Freud has the last word on that topic! Susan, this song is for you!

A song for the hanged

 

by Noel Ihebuzor 

After the next hanging

 

The rope swings in slow narrowing tiring circles

Stretched taut

under the weight of the stretched and twisted neck

The empty body dangles and swings,

emptied of dreams and desires,

Voided of life 

an inert piece dangles at the end of the rope,

in tortured peace

silent and silenced, limp and swaying

The peace of the hanged,

all flesh and bones but no spirit

The peace in this place of reward and retribution 

is broken by the oozing damp smell of fear

from the hanged in the last moments of surrender

and the stench of human waste

from the enlarging dark stain

 

 

In far away places,

the assured nods of the righteous mighty

celebrate the hanging justice

limping on a club-foot

 

Justice looks down at the hanging body,

dismissive, conscience assured,

any hanging doubt white washed

the broken body now forever blind to human justice,

its spirit now free surveys the hangman, the jury

the just and the strong, the clever and learned,

cocooned in their certainties

in an arena peopled by uncertainties

equations, assumptions, hazy and fuzzy 

 

 

The bold gold pens in the heavily ringed hands

of the wigged and the learned indifferent 

sketch clever curvy lines, circles and boxes

on the ever shifting fine sands of justice

in widening loops and areas

that will soon box in and entangle the feet of former allies

soon to be declared guilty

and soon to be consigned to the waiting rope,

soon the winds will wipe away the fine sketches in the sand

whilst an indifferent world looks on

 

 

Soon another old alliance will be dissolved,

a former thug is judged expendable

buried crimes exhumed with care,

entangling evidence amassed,

misdeeds recalled and retold in minutiae..

and another guilty is hurried away

to an encounter with ropes that stretch

and to the final stretcher

 

before, after and beyond the last,

the first and the next hanging,

let no tears be shed for the hanged,

the twisted neck

nor for the hanging world, justice stretched

rather let the ears of the world

be flooded with the song of blind bats and deaf owls

 

 

 

A song for Santos

I would have played the sweetest of tunes then for you

but boils erupted all over the lips of my flute

and malicious termites mangled its delicate throat

 

Santos, the song I had hoped to play for you

must await another season when these sobs that clog and choke my  throat

these blocks that freeze my heart and voice

slowly clear up

 

in the season of waiting, dry and lean,

O very Santos,

Dimkpa asa,

only this pool of red tears is the voice of my song of sorrow.

 


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