Posted in Poetry

Hush the voice

nothing can
ever hush a voice,
not force
nor noise

nothing can
neither philistine jaws
nor grubby grouchy claws
not even green clammy creepy envy
nor raucous hollering of the loud mouthed

can choke
the delicate dimpled
dance steps of a voice
strumming, sometimes
fluttering, then prancing, now leaping
soft, delicate, yet piercing

rich in energy
strolling with poise
overflowing with force
brimming with sense

like joyful water jets
from a dam
fresh, full, gushing,
flowing, freeing and renewing,

inventing and reinventing
For Obinna and Susan, two talented voices!

Posted in Poetry

Words: Before and beyond words – A duet

Susan L. Daniels and Noel A. Ihebuzor

before Babel

maybe
there was a word
for this me you raise

not from anything dead
but sleeping
& deep

this me that answers
& opens

throating
every word
ever spoken
in any language

before and beyond Babel
that silent voice bubbles on
bounding and bouncing
in bundles of beautiful
babble that unbundle, bare
and bond me
with no words spoken
not needing nor heeding
any spoken word

simply

because your silence speaks
more than all words

it undoes me

my unfurled feelings
amplifying the unspoken,
filling my being with soft echoes
of sounds stronger than words

***Another spontaneous duet this week.  Susan (italicized) and I (regular text) had a conversation in poetry following my comments on her poem. The result is this wonderful and warming duet!  Thanks Susan–as always, a pleasure to volley lines with you!

Posted in Poetry

Song of a Child Bride – a duet

By Susan L. Daniels and Noel A. Ihebuzor

I am a girl.
Eleven years ago
I came too early for you,
but I was yours
as nothing else was,
and I grew under love
brighter than the sun.
I am still growing.  I am green
& unripe fruit, unready

I am a girl,
I long to play, feel
and unfurl.  I run after butterflies
I wave after birds in flight
I dwell in innocence
I harvest smiles and stars in all I see

I am a child
my eyes carry hope.
I feel.  I dream past this body
and carry in these bones
a life that hums promise
and walks joy

I am a girl,
body, soul and spirit,
and human
not a piece of flesh
not an object for peace
not an object to be priced

I am a girl,
though lately this body bleeds
and these breasts can make milk
I am too young for this business of women
my hips are too narrow to balance a child,
too slender to push one out;
my mind too new to mother another
and I will break beneath a man’s need
my young body if forced to yield will only hurt,
weep in pain and shame

I am a child,
I long for safe spaces
to draw and discover my dreams,
to live them, and to sing, joyful
as I discover the marvels of the world,
my world expanding

I am a child.
I dream of books I have not read
and the only seed I am fit to hold now
are those of the mind, scattered to work deep;
not the body choked with seeds of a man
I must accept but carry in fear and bitterness.
Death will bloom inside my body, not life
if I am planted now

I am child,
not a wife
marriage at my age will drown me
twist my bones
pierce my body
and break my spirit

Mother, father
I am your child.
Your flesh made and fed me;
to send me to a husband
is to send me to a slaughterhouse
where the floor is stained
with the blood of so many cattle
listen to my words, words
eyes speak but mouth cannot;
words my body shouts in trembling
your eyes can hear if they open.
I beg you to answer past my fear
and shield me with your arms

Father and mother
ignore the clutter of culture
spare your daughter this chain of torture
Ignore the clatter of the appeal of gain,
remember our  bond of blood
before you cause me pain,
before your decisions tear and shatter my developing body
and eventually spill this innocent blood

 

Intro to this duet by Susan  on her blog – >

**You guys had to know this was coming, right?  Noel (regular text) and I (italicized) have created this duet, using the voice of a child.  Though it was, as always, a pleasure to weave lines with Noel, the subject is not one that leads to much joy…no matter how talented your duet partner is.

****Let me only add to this intro that Susan’s talent is infectious, and that it has been my luck to be so infected by it! 🙂 

http://susandanielseden.wordpress.com/2012/10/06/duet-for-the-girl-child/#comment-12719

Posted in Poetry

ChildMother and Wife

By Noel A. Ihebuzor

the child as mother

smothers childhood

the murdered mind weeps

when torture is garbed as culture,

a deadening deaf culture

deaf to pleas and protests

pleas of despair

the despair of the innocent,

thrashing like fish  

trapped in a net,

whimpering and weeping

the lonely lament of a lamb,

her neck gripped in the jaws

of a predator, depraved,

blood spurting from ruptured aperture,

victim’s pain and slow death

contrasting with victor’s rapture

the shivering of the struggling lamb

before the slaughterer’s blade,

as dreaded night falls,

in vain searching the dark world

closing in on her for some light

to brighten her bleak plight and

and lift her soul,

finding none

 

heiress of pain,

fragile limbs grabbed, groped and gripped

by coarse grasping hands,

the repeated shattering pain  as tender

flesh is gashed by hard hot flesh,

the happy husband

invades soft developing chambers

savours with selfish relish tender flesh,

matters little

this maturing and developing frame

now numb

matters little childhood

now broken

Matters least innocence stolen

forever lost

as forced intrusions, crude invasions,

desecrate unfolding sacred spaces

the empty victor’s gain,

the victim’s pain, our collective shame

 

Now she carries a new life in her, her child,

herself a child, drenched in confusion,

12, 13 seasons ago,

she was like this life just beginning to form,

now daughter of pain,

tied down by the glue cobwebs of tradition, vice-like

 

 

Is this meet the sacrifice of the innocent?

Is it meet that marriage mars childhood

mangling a girl child’s today and her tomorrow

destroying her innocence

in the season of her youth

making a mother of one

in need of mothering

smothering her hopes, happiness and health,

freezing rich potentials

limiting possibilities from unfolding

all because fevered callous hands,  

propped by culture selfishly reach out in greed

to harvest and appropriate fruits,

tender fruits plucked in their bud

to feed coarse souls

in collusion with parents

in search of quick gain

on such emptying and wasting plain

deaf to the cries of pain

of childhood smothered,

of dreams denied

** raw…will refine later – the subject is a delicate and very painful one**

Posted in Poetry

Urban Jungle Blues – A Duet

By Noel A. Ihebuzor and Susan L. Daniels

Another wandering day finds worn out minds
worrying on a wavering road wound tightly around anxious
feet lost and soles tired, tiring,
endless stomping, souls emptying, core eroding
trapped penniless in hard bone want
rides and crosses opulence heaving full breasted
never meeting anywhere or nowhere, desert islands, different
indifference, whether in narrow winding slums spawning hovels, grime, crime and anomie or in suffocating metallic structures that pierce the sky
seated on wide arteries on gridlocked checker boards
where automobiles choke the lungs with fumes of affluence,

Here, this city no longer smells of steel galvanizing
but oats baking into cereal O’s, and the main street
pedestrian mall frames four tracks for trains that do nothing
but run from the banks to the university
in a 30-year straight line, all the stores closed
except pharmacies, pawn shops, Chinese take-out,
stores that sell bright synthetic shoes for drag queens and prostitutes
or lottery tickets, cigarettes, and beer

The city sprawls, growls, as grim faces with automated smiles
and ATM voices greet and grit set teeth
co-travellers on the subway, rush without seeing, not feeling
and when seeing move on before sunshine thaws well frozen
protector shields of indifference and anonymity
to open a space now dreaded in this place where we pace
in a metal jungle of tubular bars, well rehearsed smiles,
a maze that breathes fear
behind stale glass windows or airless hovels
that color eyes and imprison minds
and minds stagnate in the stupor of sterile promises
that become hazier as mind become heavier, and stubborn dreams
slowly tip to cheap end points, needles, skins, threads and ropes

This is my downtown, my city of brown and black faces
strangled by surrounding white arms, where all the jobs grow
past the bus lines and reverse commutes from suburb to suburb;
but still in this heart blocked by abandoned factories
rises an energy.  Students fill the coffeehouses and jazz clubs,
wrapped in black, borrowed sophistication after a night
in the theatre district or gallery parties, and warehouses shift to lofts
and still more galleries, pop-up shows mushrooming between the cracks of sidewalks

like brilliant intoxicating fungi
as street festivals paint the air
with basil and cinnamon, mixing with those oats

urban centres call
sell hopes that reach for a sky
darkened by hard hearts

those sidewalks

littered landscaping
of trash cans never emptied
dreams full of promise

so emptying

***Susan and I explore the challenges of urban life in this duet. Though our backgrounds are different, our duet brings out some of the universal features of life  in an urban setting  – hence, the title, Urban Jungle Blues. As always, this was fun!  Susan’s voice is in italics, Mine is in regular type. Kindly let us know what you think of the duet!

Posted in Poetry

Wrestling with one’s chi – a duet

By Noel Ihebuzor and Susan Daniels

my chi is a muse, impish
invisible fellow lurking
behind my ears and my tongue
whispering when I am not ready
sauntering away when I am

mine whispers words in woven gold flights
spiraling from blood to my ears
as my eyes open; dream-writing, I call it
and the words melt in daylight like mist
before I have reached for my pen

quicksilver, erratic
unpredictable, nagging like a stubborn dream
on those days when fresh minty words stream
down my running fingers
and then only to turn off the faucet
when incipient joy in showering in the deluge
of singing is huge

they gift us in fragments, suggestions.
if they gave us the keyed music
of the harp strung underneath particles
always vibrating, could our ears
hold the whole song?

then those days when in mischief
it fills me with words in riot
words that rage at thought
thoughts that resist rhythm
lines that refuse order, grating
words, thoughts in drunken stagger
limping clubfoot, clumsy clod

those words that sound like beginning poetry
that go nowhere, or spiral into nonsense:
pretending I am a tree/transmission shock
jamming the frequency/my head
is a crowded place to peek into.  hum the words
my personal goddess, and I will follow
blindly, my pen scribbling your joke
and this poet the butt of it

the seasons come and go
leaves sprout, bloom and drop
but my chi remains unchanging
driving, firing, inspiring and
sometimes tiring and
despairing me

ridden and driven by laughing children
impossible to catch, and should we try?
no, better to sound the songs
of invisible fingers strumming heartstrings
like mandolins that sometimes fall flat
for their amusement

my chi and I are Siamese twins
linked at the junction of mind, soul and heart
chasing our wants amidst chi’s obdurate wonts

yes, linked and bound, but not by a short thread
she tugs me awake, jumping rope
with the cord that feeds us both, but I cannot
wake her, cannot call her to me–no, I am her dog
leashed by that link,
sometimes running at the snap of a finger
begging for strokes and scraps

chi, your hands will not choke my throat when I proclaim
your wandering and meandering ways
twins are equals, social and spiritual
I resist bullies, and I call you that not
but can the palm no matter how large blot out the rays of the moon
my truths about you stand erect, an iroko for all to see
and despite your sobering entreaties,
these truths I cannot not hide nor suppress

I have no proverbs to suggest urgency
better than these; but yes, let us call out
trickery for what it is, and play each other
without binding, in a dance
instead of a chase, so we both smile in victory;
not a rout but a tie, in a game well-played by both

but though I rage, I fear that in the end
you and I shall meet at the junction of road
where compromise and conciliation habit
productive, just like I wish for us
for you need me and I need you
and the world would be poorer if our voices died
or we choked each other in moments
of well deserved rage and resentment

***This was great FUN!  Our two chis (Susan’s and mine) were at their best today in terms inspiring and sustaining inspiration. That is the only way to explain the fact that this duet took less than 90 minutes from conception to finish. Persons familiar with Igbo cosmology (I am igbo) will recall that one’s chi represents a personal god who is seen as playing a determining role in that individual’s life chances, creativity inclusive. One’s chi can thus then gift an individual with beautiful poetry/songs.  Presented in this way, one can read the chi as a muse!  Sometimes, the chi can also be stubborn and block creativity – here we find an igbo explanation for the western concept of a writer’s block!! As in all our duets, Susan is italicized, I am bolded.***