Posted in Poetry

A long song for the boy who waits

He sits and counts the days and the hours

mama has been away to the market

for seven market weeks now

and they all say that this market she went to

is located in some very far away place

and he tells himself that he will ask her

why she did not wake him the morning she left

to go to this far market to say good bye 

He had woken up to learn she left for the market very early

at that time of day when the dew still holds back the lizard’s tail

and slows down their running,

at that time of day when night spirits

are hurrying back to their abodes

before their sworn enemy the sun catches

them out and abroad 

and so he waits and asks

“when will mama return from the market

other children’s mothers come back and go again

and I sit,  waiting for mine, mine who will not come back

mama, when  will you return from this market”

And he wished she would come back

prayed to Chineke and his personal chi

to hasten her return

so that he could tell her

how everybody had been so nice to him lately

and how papa no longer scolded him

how nda Uzoemena had come and taken

him to mama’s maternal village four days

after mama had gone to the market

and he had stayed two days

he would tell her of all the woman who hugged him

all saying Nwam-oo

and the nice meals they all competed to cook and bring for  him

and Nne, his grandmother who held and hugged him,

and the hushed whispers of the women when he was there

and how he thought Nne cried the day he arrived

and how when he asked why

she was said it was from joy of seeing him,

him, son of her only daughter Nwabuaku 

He would tell her when she came back

that once or twice in the night

he heard papa sobbing

when papa thought he was asleep

and he  smiled  as

he imagined how mama would then tease papa,

papa who always said men do not cry

yes, there was a lot he would tell her

how nda Nneka now came over to cook for papa and him

in the evenings and would stay to chat with them afterwards

how her onubu soup tasted more bitter than hers

and how he had resisted the first time she tried to bathe him

a boy of four was a man he prpoudly told her

and needed his privacy

he would tell how he overheard nda Uchechi and nda Onyemauche

discussing the other day

and one of them, he couldn’t remember which one of them,

saying that papa

would need another woman to look after the house, and how

they said Auntie Chimaoge would be perfect for the role

and he wondered why, but he would ask mama

and he knew she would smile softly and shyly and explain

as she always does

and he still sits and waits, missing her with each day that passess 

not knowing when she will come back,

very sure she would come home

but telling himself that he would not tell her any of these stories

until she had given him the ripe udala, the akara and yes, the utara ukwa

she would have bought for him from the market,

and then he would hug her and hold her

and ask her to never ever leave him lonely for this long again .

Posted in Poetry

A song on impotent promises – for the rain doctor

 by Noel Ihebuzor

 

The rain doctor shelters under the leaking roof

away from the taunts of the raging rains

 

The rain washes his impotent incantations

together with the tears of shame that trickle down his cheeks

 

He looks up to the heavy skies

and rains sterile chants up to them

as the dark bellies of the of the pregnant sky rumble

and open to unleash volleys and rushes of rain

 

the rain doctor incants as he prances,

He mumbles as his teeth chatter in the drenching driving rain

His frail frame trembles with each rumble of the pregnant sky,

with each gross peal of laughter of the insolent sky

with each flash of lighting

 

The disobedient rains have undone the rain doctor

 

His client swells with despair,

roves, raves, rages, trembles and mumbles

drenched in a mixture of sweat and rain

He apologises to his guests

 approaches the rain doctor

with clenched fists and death in his eyes

The rain doctor backs away,

still searching his armory

for the appropriate herbs, chant and gesture

to control or appease the raging elements

 

Once reassured guests now huddle together tightly packed,

jam packed like generous hampers,

like passengers in Oshodi-bound molues

squeezing into every little corner and

spilling out and over into the veranda

where bold and exploratory pools from the rain slip in gently, and

gradually inch onto and edge onto poor toes, to un-shoed feet,

forcing these to inch backwards

 

Crowded and cramped in their places of shelter

Tempers shorten, hisses begin and lengthen

And soon the protests, the jostles as

perfumes contend in conflict,

as sweating sets in, slowly but steadily,

as make-ups begin their break-ups,

tempers grow shorter as the down pour lengthens

 

The empty canopies are now peopled by enlarging pools

The band leader and his troupe seek refuge in one canopy

Bravely holding down the tarpaulins

to protect their instruments …

not knowing who to blame

the rain or the rain doctor

and his failed assurances

 

All available eyes search for the rain doctor

Eyes have become pointed barbed arrows

sharp daggers and deep cutting swords

the rain doctor seeing these

and reading their unspoken intentions,

backs away, out of his sheltering leaking roof

backs away and away into the driving arms

of the tropical torrential rain

 

 

Frustration hangs heavy as a wetness on a drenched hen

threatening to run over as the huge pools on some of the canopies

The rain doctor secretly prays for the rains to stop

or for the earth to open and receive him.

 

 

Images now invade his now tortured mind….

Discordant, strident, fluid….

  

The boastful male of acclaimed virility, the long concealed and denied empty bags

husband of many wives and father of many

now finds himself in a harem

and nothing stirs, bags empty, no quiver

he shivers with shame

secrets on impotence are best traded in private markets

as subdued whispers, not in public spaces

 

The skies are now open, that which was hid is now open,

The revelation flies from mouth to ear, from ear to mouth,

willing lips and agile tongues twist, turn

and embellish that which is now revealed

 

The rain doctor sees these images,

In vain he struggles to shelter from the streams of truth,

but the rains drench him and reveal his impotence and he stands,

staggered, dazed and impotent to stop this revelation

of his powerlessness, his irrelevance and the many years

of his fake and sterile promises

 

Posted in Poetry

Within calling without: A Duet

 

By Susan Daniels and Noel Ihebuzor

Susan:
outside my window, tree frogs and crickets
are in full spring shout, like calling to like
until they meet and are silent

Noel:
from within, behind my window,
I hear their calls, calls from within,
coded calls that inspire and stir,
that codes of the seasons unlock and trigger

Susan:
not just yet, because it is too cool
in my valley for them, fireflies
will begin their coded, coordinated sparking
in a language that rivals stars
in their persuasion of each other

Noel:
the sparking fireflies speak in response to a flame that glows within, stoked by embers of a lighting warming and awakening season
they spark-sing songs to like souls, sparks that speak alluringly like star studded invitation cards, the glistening promise of plenty to a journey of sharing and multiplying

Susan:
but how will my call or flicker of false starlight be answered?

Noel:
and as like attracts like,
and every human act is a flicker, a signal
every call too a signal
every silence a message
I sense that you for whom I flicker
will hear me and I your sparking,
that my voice will carry to you even when I speak not
and that I will hear you even in your deepest silence
on the darkest starlit night where fireflies rival stars
and creatures of spring craft their coded colorful creation symphonies

***

This was a spur of the moment thing–we wrote this in less than an hour, my inspirational and creative friend Susan & I…hope you like this one–we certainly did– as we sang it!

Posted in Poetry

Duet #2: Thoughts on Dinner – By Noel Ihebuzor and Susan L. Daniels

Noel:
the thought of what to eat is as important as how and where to eat

Susan:
Yes, what can we feed on to justify
a meeting between 2 continents,
tectonic plates that do not overlap;
separated by oceanic crust

this food must be elemental & necessary as air;
and where and how will arise from the answer

Noel:
Do we stuff ourselves or should we feel ourselves to a place where we can fill ourselves with us

to this place where fresh palmwine, the nectar of the gods foams and froths and speaks to our dry throats

Susan:
Here, I speak of earth & water

& tangible things

you whisper a banquet made for gods, of souls, of soil, of fruits
never imagined

from the tree we plant together;
this meal can only be by us, for us, and of us

Noel:
Come away to this place where the gentle moon wraps the winking stars in the soft velvety mantle of its embrace, embellishing them in generous streams of silver rays
bathing us in its glow,
where we shall float weightless buoyed by the lightness of our kindled kindred spirits,
come to this dinner, the rolling boundless ocean shall be our table, spread out before us, linking us, seamless, rippling like us, full – the waves shall sing and dance for us and with and by us, and drown out the tiring world in its loud songs of approval as it laps and rolls for us and with us

Susan:
To meet you there, I will leap over the dateline,
like a child jumping rope, or skipping a chip of shale
across the Caribbean;

I will dream this tonight & wrap us in those rays
that I will braid into one light, rays that now touch our faces
a day apart, on different sides of the earth

Noel:
Let us go hand in hand to this banquet of sharing, of caring across the oceans, bridging distances, the oceans roaring in raucous laughter below us,
the star filled night bathed in the soft beams of the approving moon looking on, let us go to this banquet
where anxious hands trace fine circles that mean nothing and yet are full of meanings, that say nothing yet say everything

Susan:
You will not have to teach me this language;
I am a woman who knows full well the words you would trace,
the worlds I would sketch: a silence
that sings twinned in our blood

*** This is my second duet with a great lady, Susan – onye obi omam ! It was an honor and joy to sing and alternate my verses with those of  this great lady and poetess whose poetic voice radiates such originality, charm, soul and elan. A poetic conversation with her fills you with such intense satisfaction and takes you to another level – this was and is my experience as we exchanged verses across the broad oceans on cyberwaves.  Incidentally, this second duet between Susan and myself was inspired by her beautiful and well crafted poem  “What’s for Dinner”   –  so in many ways, this poem is actually a plaigiarism of Susan’s original creativity! My debt to Susan is therefore immense!

Posted in Poetry

A song for the false prophetess

 The Alija dancers are now at the foot

of the altar of the swift tongued priestess

and the voice of the flutist

has ascended to the top of the iroko tree

and rustles the leaves there

and on the ground feet move

as the ekwe invites the ogene, embraces it  

their throats and voices now interlaced

in rhythmic throbbings 

 

The dark eyed priestess

circles of white chalk

around her eyes and ears,

lips coated in dark paint

running down her nose

walks in with slow footed sorrow, regal like

slowed down by heavy copper bangles on her feet

sagged by the séances and sciences of her vision

 

captive ears, shivering bodies, trembling souls

cower as private and divine wisdom are dispensed

in incantations channeled by invisible forces, the prophetess

a shaking medium spewing revelations

all specious knowledge, empty chants and blank visions,

the vision of bats…..

 

She was not there at the sacrifice of the innocents

nor at the forced departure of mothers in youth

but now she claims she saw them all, 

before they happened, before they were  planned

but she did nothing about them

told no one

 

she sees tomorrow only

after they are come and gone

and though she lives among the living

her loyalties are with the dead.

Posted in Poetry

Dry taps

By

 

Noel Ihebuzor

 

Dry taps flood my eyes raw and red with tears

the running noses of malnourished children dry me up

slowly eat me up

 

Nothing runs now

nothing grows now any more

save the swollen stomachs

severe acutely malnourished children, SAMs

Nothing else but the growing numbers  of kids carrying these  ugly loads

of shame, nothing else  but these

and the swelling bank accounts of officials and politicians

persons of shrinking consciences, stunted morals

afflicted of severe affective deficits – SAD

 

Ugonma has died of thirst in a land endowed with springs,

Echidiime of hunger in a land over-running and endowed with plenty

in a land increasingly overcrowded by uncaring and indifferent adults

adults with blinkers and going bunkers

adults with contracted souls and empty minds

 

is there any wonder why the taps continue to run dry

and  I continue to cry for my hopes betrayed and

lament dreams and inheritances sold for a cheap porridge?

Posted in Poetry

lean years

the lean year now grow long

the lean years now swell

fat years now a memory, fading and withering

withering as children, fading as hope

whilst rage roars and soars

and fat indifferent officials and politicians gorge themselves silly

in fits akin to cannibal rage and infantile obsession

Posted in Poetry

communication and communion as bridges across the breaches of time and space

 
welcome to a new day –
the slumbering sun should shake off its sleep soon
and commence strolling over over to your space
as you roll and journey in your dreams
and dream up fresh songs! 
 
the sun is here already
it sauntered in hours ago
gently shoving the wings of night eastwards
and feebly greeting me as I walked my morning mile
in my brave effort to work off spread and weight!
 
A new song wells and swells in my throat as I walked
You should hear it when you wake and
I should buy you dinner since you inspire it-
yes, dinner without that stumbling word in our separated world 
a dinner that will overflow with richer dialogues
dialogues so instant, so sweet that they will
make even the sweetest singing canary jealous of their melodies
 
but we must yet find a fine time to dine
to commune and communciate beyond keyboard and  
bridge this breach of time and space
Posted in Uncategorized

Duet – A song by two voices

By Susan L. Daniels and Noel Ihebuzor

Susan:

Can I write this
or is this you
breathing in my poetry
& exhaling constellations
as I do yours

Let us write a truth
together
that resonates
across 2 continents:
of ogene and cymbal,
our voices
braiding organically
some new construct

Noel:

The song of twin voices twined and intertwined
linked by a bridge of rainbow,
a rainbow that links to an eternal truth
that bonds are color blind and see through blinds
communing across space and tongues with no tongue
sharing messages and vibes even in silence so total soft that feather falls sound like shouting waterfalls

the ogene perfumes the airwaves with lusty melodies
the cymbal charms and caresses aroused ear drums
as the flutist weaves and paints soft echoes of universal amity
feet begin to tap and waists begin to sway
to a spontaneous rhythm that speaks, that bonds, that creates, and announces a bond that baffles space,
time, clime and culture,
the bond and truth of the huge seeds and power of shared creativity that resides in us,
waiting to be released to waiting, warm welcoming spaces

Susan:

I pipe a melody
on a single pan flute,
and  you answer with full orchestra;
a rainbow ocean of voices blended
I swim within gladly,

a  song
echoed in conch shells
lifted to hungry ears,
or is that
the echo of a pulse
that is eternal,

life’s beat
is the rhythm of this dancing
out feet move inside

what will spring
from this planting
that I accept
in cupped,
trembling hands

& cover
with echoing silence?

Noel:

The planted seed bursts to life
and a sapling bursts to life
singing unheard melodies as its leaves unfurl,
branches reach out
embracing the open skies
its roots penetrate firm and deep
soon the bewitched seasons conspire
to fast track the season of seeds
the season of sowing
the season of birth
new songs are unleashed,
voices twine and intertwine
combining, creating and co-creating
new rhythms and fresh amities
and fresh rainbow bridges link people,
connect earth and sky,
people, places and spaces,
bodies and kindred souls in bonds of sharing,
bonds that penetrate, interpenetrate,
bonds that sing, hum and creating
warm synergies and energies
outflowing with enrichments
booming, blossoming and blooming
with life and unbounded possibilities
and boundless vistas

******************

Short Intro and context/

 I am sharing a duet I did with my friend, soul mate and fellow blogger, Susan L Daniel who resides in New York.  Across the distances, reaching out on and across that soft span bridge that loops out out each of us and can connect cultures and kindred souls, we sang this duet, spontaneous, with total voice and giving and elan – she in  her soft velvety contralto, me in my ruff gruffy voice that would have made Satchmo sound like a Pavarotti. I sang my last verse at 2345 hours Dar es Salaam time, with a request to Susan as director and inspirer to upload to her blog. She was gracious to do this and even more gracious in asking me to also upload on mine! Et bien Voila!   Enjoy our song, our duet, the child our communiion across cultures, spaces and time.  It was good as we sang it and Susan and I can only hope that as you too sing it with us, that the same warm gentle feeling that enveloped us in those moments of co creation would also be yours to experience!

Noel