Posted in Poetry

The long mile

She walks with slow dignity

Feet as lead, soul as stone

auto-pilot, behind him on this long last mile

a dark strangling walk, unfitting end to a journey

that had commenced with songs and stars

a mother’s heart frozen cold, numb

as sorrow scorches and freezes her

all at once  her to the core

of her being

 

No tears flow now

“He would not want me to cry in the public

Even though this mile I walk behind and with him

should be his to walk for me”

 

she dreads the end

the sight of another mother opening to receive and enfold him

the sound as shovelled in loose earth

draws the blinds forever

 

the tumbling sands drown her prayers

for the father’s bosom

to welcome this pilgrim

who returned too early

 

and as she  prayed

the welled up tears, push down the barriers

of soul destroying composure

and cascade, the heaving sobs and wails from

a shattered mother

shattering the solemn calm of a painful goodbye

 

Posted in Poetry

The singing stream: A Duet

By Noel Ihebuzor and Susan Daniels

Susan:
How do I hold the strength
of this spring that sings
and streams;
waterfalls roaring against the shutter
that struggles to hold them in
and back, wrestles to dam them?

Noel:
What good is a spring,
if it simply wells inside
unseen, unfelt, untouched?

Susan:
Untapped and untasted
captive sweetness this strong
can nourish nothing;
only drown what holds it.

Noel:
Springs seek release
to leap and spring forth
surge to find release
(and release us)
to feed the parched earth
a destiny we call escape.

Susan:
In release what was hidden
silvers through sunlight,
a sung arrow that arcs
and returns to its source
softer now; to trace our skin
and the earth gently
with cool fingertips.

Noel:
The released waters unchain,
unbind and wash clean
and deep.
Voice fuses with vision
in the singing rainbowed fountain
defining potential, outpouring possibilities.

Susan:
An outpouring of this significance has a cost.
Within the core of this yes
that must be shouted
as it is brought forth
sleeps power that can shake the earth
and wear down mountains;
let it be heard,
let thunder be its echo,
let the sound carry
to your ears.

***What can I say, besides it is always a joy to write with Noel?  Because it very much is. (Susan)

**** To which I add that it is such a pleasure to lace and intertwine my voice with that of Susan who sings so well and with such distinctiveness of voice!

Posted in Poetry

Drinking and Breathing: A duet

 

By Noel Ihebuzor and Susan L. Daniels

Noel:
Throats, though they may parch, never rust,
wells never really run dry,
below the dry beds arteries of spring,
sleep, rustle and wait to sing
all wait the call of the season,
the internal stirring,
the stimulus outside, a connection
then the dam bursts
subterranean waters surge forward
liberate the messenger, the medium
the surging song both release and reward,
reward for the seed carried and faith kept.

Susan:
If inspiration is a spring filling our wells
with new sweetness, let us drink from them.
Let words somersault and cartwheel from us
frolicking, yes, let them play;
but swift and dangerous as the rapids of Niagara;
and, like Niagara, let these songs pour into us
and through us, and from us
with the strength of one great lake
falling into another, heedless of the drop.

Any song that rises from a seed nourished from waters like these,
and tended by our constant certainty
should flower quickly into being, unfiltered and joyous.

Noel:
If sleep is a fallow period, then let us lay still
ideas steal and sneak past our shut eyelids
meander into our beings
waltz with ideas and songs that sleep within us, unknown, such that
rising to a new day, wakes them up
Let us hope that rising will raise the shutters
open awakenings,
awaken seeds that lie drowsy
drugged with sleep
ideas with roots groping for soil,
waiting for space to  dance
A place to anchor,
anchor to grow and glow,
DNA of growth
etched indelibly in the seed,
even in dormancy,
and soon in time and with time
the seed sprouts
hungry groping roots push into
the unbonding receptacle of mother earth,
nourishing, warming,
causing a stem to elongate,
a trunk warms up,
walks on the invisible staircase of the air
weaves its way upwards, skywards, proud
reaching out to embrace the open skies,
flowers singing beautiful and soon to seed again
and scatter new seeds,
which though silent now
will one day each burst
to announce a new season of planting,
of birth, of becoming after a season of rest
a hibernation that worries but which
restores, refreshes and renews
in the creator’s creative cycle of creativity.

Susan:
After dreaming, my eyelids open to flesh resounding
like a clapped bell calling the hour, my mouth opening eagerly
to incorporate air to feed the fire singing in blood, in bones;
that first deep-drawn breath before our song rises
from the belly, past lips and takes flight.

We call this process of writing inspiration,
but it is the art of both taking in
and pouring out.  Let us call this cycle waiting within us
and moving through us simply breathing; incorporation
and expression too closely linked
to ever separate.

******/co creating with Susan and weaving our voices to sing of dormancy and creativity, a beautiful experience for which I owe Susan one more dinner!
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!