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

Crying wants

By Noel Ihebuzor

 

Weeds of woes grow

 as wants groan and drone,

flourish when frail shallow deeds

 dance and dither puny,

piddle and idle, while

needling needs over-hang heavy,

in a darkling sad sky,

 

hunger hovers,

rages and glowers,

as hollow bellies rumble,

howling; needs shout

harsh, hoarse

hard to hide

 

begging vision with action

 to unbind the bound,

not flash bulb shallow flourish,

done to impress,

impotent sterile whimper

dripping like dribble,

trickling away

like treacle stored

in a beautiful raffia bag

Posted in Poetry

Haiku – Slum

By Noel Ihebuzor

 

Souls stuck in a cage,

seething with savage rage, as

hope drifts and minds roast

 

barren space,

yet lush in crime, grime

running wild

 

festering red sore

child of  need and greed

slowly choking life

Posted in Poetry

“party activists”

By Noel A. Ihebuzor

 

Simmering rancour lumbers, raging

opposition mutates to 0-positions,

zero sum games, zeroing and leading

to blame game, verbal joust sodden with vitriol

ugly and promising to  balloon to violence

 

spiralling envy enlarges greenish, swelling,

smelling fevered phlegm

stirs red hate, hot pepper in café latte,

the yellowish-red eye, blood shot,

poisoned, clouding sight,

vision blurred and blinkered

linked to clogged blocked ears

occluding the voice of moderation

 

ambition binds minds,

asphyxiating the voice of reason that wails

strapping and shackling it

in dark airless dungeons,

the empire of  fulminant rage,

where barbed tongues uncoil

splattering venom,

drumming discord deceitful

 

as envy limbers, driving transient pursuits

smear paints, tar taints, stirs, tears and sears

the other, in forms grotesque,

deforming and defaming

galloping ambitious feet fixed

on a chosen route to attain gain and fame,

ultimate twin goals

 

and the people, poor souls sandwiched

matter between hammer and anvil

hapless, malleable

caught in hurting, heating up and hitting dispute

and cut to pieces as peace shatters

in the hard, hurtful hands of haters and hatters

 

**** written after following very ugly exchanges on Twitter on the 14/15 July during and after a guber election.  How badly the strident voices of a belligerent few pollute the political space.

Posted in Poetry

A song for Kibera

By Noel Ihebuzor

From their anthills and lairs, nests, cages and hovels
They crawl out of their holes, their dark damp cramped cages
At the first suggestion of light
on a new day
on empty bellies and in unwashed bodies,
on cracked tired broken shoes
they stream forth like angry ants in search of little change and
praying for the big change
In this existence denied of meaning, devalued and wasting

As they scurry to places to sell their hands and feet
They leave behind temporarily a jungle maze
full of the living and the heaving
most empty denied living hollowed souls
sucked into the hole of hell by want and still in want

Late in the evening, they crawl back insatiate to their dark damp cramped holes
To rest fatigued souls and aching soles
Every day repeats this same ritual of pain with no gain
This same cycle and the circle remain unbroken, imprisoning,
crushing and slowly closing in

A vegetating existence has slowly cooked and numbed the soul
Emptying it of meaning and thinning it as the soles of the tired shoes they wear
As poverty flourishes and hope declines, tired souls and worn out soles

Men and women, teens and adults, drifters and hopefuls
They trooped here from now dimly remembered villages,
Their minds and feet seduced by the lure of glory
The haste for gain
Now their souls sad and weary weighed down and confused
Reduced by pain, held by down as if by weights of lead and waste

The rains of regret have erased all,
washed away all rainbows from these emptying spirits
regret rears strong, sears and cuts deep like a shearer’s knife
the mud filled streams of poverty wash down and away
clearing and carrying away the struggling and clambering feet and limbs and lives
the slopes are steep and slippery and false
on this faulted journey to the portals of plenty and affluence
the streams become torrents, and the torrents rage and
drag down and away

the storms of ruin gather and billow
dirt, dust, rust and rot mingle
dearth and the death of living
the dance of the death in place of life
like the stagger of the club footed , ungainly, clumsy, ugly and pitiful

help comes on millipede feet, fortune just as fast and hope dies just as slow
poverty walks and stalks in tatters and foul rags
time is also a millipede, hope a stunting dwarf
despair blooms and flourishes widely like wild untamed poisonous mushrooms
announces her presence loudly in the echoing rumbles of empty stomachs
fading hopes, festering wastes, dirty deaths, dirt and garbage

priests and pastors, imams, preachers and prophets
conduct their rich rituals as they dispatch the departed
and console the living with tall tales

Life in the crowded spaces of the living is full of rage, red in the tooth,
Raw, rough, tough
Human waste runs open, in open drains, scattered
Pipes and pumps yawn empty, cheap card board and brown zinc habitations
Sprawl and lean dangerously before habitants who have since stopped to care

The smell of alcohol mixes with the stench of poverty,
mixes with the smell
Of airless spaces with exposed excreta, vomit and waste
In noisy cheap bars, cheap perfumes on easy prostitutes
male and female
Hang heavy suffocating with the damp clammy odour of fear that sits heavily on this place of violence that violates
Scantily clad child mothers parade their wares unheeding before
Progressively inebriated future clients, with dimming eyes and failing judgments
As the venom of booze slowly creeps all over, dulling senses and stirring lust
The flesh trade is fast and flourishes, a lot more than flesh is sold in those short exchanges
Poorly clad children issues of many a trade sit around abandoned,
Strong glue has fried their brains and slowly freezes their lungs
They observe, hear, see, soak in and absorb all the rituals of pain, shame, want, cruelty and neglect

The streams of life that waters the living flow away and distant
rough and raging torrents of mud dredges rush openly and scar this place of want
rich in misery, eroding living and corroding the soul

And the place goes on
one big dance of opposites
full but empty
alive but dying
urban yet a jungle
more animals and less human
all ready to pounce

They trooped here in droves in search of hope
hopelessness and dope now bind many
in their rage the gun and knife now become a few
and for many the rope calls and ultimately unbinds……

let the sky open like my eyes and see
may the sky unblock her ears to the cries of pain and shame
heaven, reach out and wipe away their sighs, their pain
as they hover stunned by the lies of smooth tongues
sky loosen their bonds
bind those who tie up others with their inaction and truthful lies
heaven, unbind these bound tongues, bind those of the binders and wasters

heaven, open a window for these trapped souls
so that sun may shine
sky, open your sides and send showers of calm, of hope
of renewal, to reborn, recreate
let your waters of life wash away the gloom and doom, loosen their grips and unbind
the victims, wash away greed, remove need
let the seeds of hope flourish, hope and possibilities as twins and triplets
let new habitations spring up, homes for humans and hearths for hearts
women and children will be fine
and songs and dances may explode in every throat richly
and tired feet may again dance in nimble and rediscovered elegance of souls filled and fired by fine wine

**** I visited Kibera, Nairobi for the first time in 2004 and returned there on a number of occasions. The intense poverty there never ceased to shock me…and this song of despair and hope, written in 2004 was one of my responses to the strong emotions Kibera stirred up in me.

Posted in Poetry

Conoco

By Noel Ihebuzor

 

The small aircraft drifted down the scantily clad almost naked desert skies

The noise of engines banging at our aching eyes

It bumped as the hot desert winds punched and pushed its under belly

And then a thud and furious rush as we hit the stone and dust infested dirt strip of a run way

Stones and rocks and pebbles and dust rose and flew

 as if in protest behind us as we taxied

 and then the aircraft came to rest on this harsh, hard and sullen sterile desert

located in the middle of nowhere

 

Six four wheel drives stood at odds with the desert terrain….

and soon we commenced the drive to nearest town from Conoco, Garowe

 

Driving into town in an assorted and mixed convoy of aid workers, armed guards and security personnel

We passed malnourished shrubs

valiantly brandishing their thorny bristles

 and sharp ends and keeping away sheep, goats and camel predators

in this intriguing fight for life in this arid,

thirsty, empty and sterile place where much life has flown

 

We passed a young shepherd boy angrily checking and herding his stubborn flock

brandishing a stick and controlling sheep, camels and restless goats.

 

We drove along a dirt road carved on the dry desert land

A road framed in a sterile, yawning and gaping desperate desert

We drove on a flat terrain cooked and roasted slowly by a heartless  sun

Past waterless heaps of sand and stones, and dunes

In this place that screamed want and waste.

 

Soon we came across a fallen camel in its final sleep

its huge carcass still as it lay where it had fallen in its last and lost struggle

for life in this place of death

Its still and silent form still sang its last heroic but futile fight for life

As its parched throat, empty stomach and weakened body eventually emptied her body

 and it yielded up its soul to the empty desert sky.

 

Even from the distance of time and space, I felt I sensed her last tear of pain and shame

as the harsh dry desert slowly and inexorably desiccated her body, spirit and soul.

 

The sun with the passage of time had roasted her flesh,

the harsh storms, the night winds, the eternally shifting sharp sands, stones,

the smaller inhabitants of this stony place,

all of these had stripped her flesh almost bare

baring her huge bones and her huge rib cage

leaving her white bones standing there,

exposed, whitened and bleached by the sun, by the stars

 

Two hundred metres further down the road as we hurried to Garowe,

we passed yet another whitened and whitening carcass,

still in death, arresting and strident by its presence and size….

and yet another, a kilometer further

 

Who will shed a tear for these fallen camels, who but their bereaved owners?

who will weep for the fallen ships of the desert,

drowned in heaps of hot and harsh desert sands?

Will any one remember them as they sleep in this empty space,

as they lie still and stilled in this place of want and waste?

Who will wail for these lost souls

when the ears of men and women have become deaf and numb

by the din of greed, stunted by the seduction of ambition

their consciences stiffened by the creed of greed, grab and material incontinence?

 

Who will bury these white bones whose presence troubles me so?

who will remove them from the eyes of my heart?

who will bury these huge white bones and many other white bones of waste and want that lie scattered in empty spaces and places?

 

The carcasses of waste and destruction sleep cheap in this place as in many others

where the creed is greed, greed the creed and thus fecund in death, stones and sterility.

 

The silenced souls and the fixed white bones speak loudly to me

bring moisture to my tired eyes

their awkward and precocious eternal sleeps gnaw

 raw and savagely at the edges of my fragile conscience

and thaw tears frozen in the back of my skull.

 

They remind me of the dimming and dimmed voices of the weak

The hardly heard and often drowned voices of the frail and feeble

And the eternally ignored gestures of children and women struggling for life and air and some place in the light of life.

 

In their grotesque sleep of life and death, I see also the early sleep of children,

the pains and tears of harmless children who are harmed by the harshness of the strong

the agonies and empty deaths of all children who fall to the whims of the wicked

And the wicked who stand on the graves of the fallen

 

The sleeping camels conjure in my mind

future spectacles of soon to be enacted sleeps of the innocent

who will lie still in this place and other places of sand and stone,

Their souls parched, their spirits broken, their weak limbs crushed,

their paltry belongings looted as they scamper and scatter

and stoop and cower in polythene and card board hovels on the first stage of their journey to eternal

but early sleep 

as silenced, they return to their silent creator

their frail frames framed in shallow and unmarked graves

 

****Written in Garowe in 2005 when I did humanitarain work in Puntland, Somalia

Posted in Poetry

Circles and cycles

By Noel Ihebuzor

 

Eyes buried deep in hollow round sockets,

the sagging sack of bones speak for bodies

clothed in loose fitting tired plastic skin buckets

drooping like tired jute bags, brown, crumpling floppies

 

Buttocks shrivelled and feet

Swollen ungainly, dragging weeping frame around in now ending cycles

the circling flies, whirling after twirling running tummies meet

mums in panic, running around dazed in dizzying circles

holding on to and hoping, slowly hopes withering

yet stubbornly clutching to withered hopes, wilting and dithering 

 

Close by, on well manicured lawns, watered

tenderly by cycling swinging sprayers,

in circles of encircling and overflowing affluence

Pastors, prophets, politicians co-habit

preach, pray, praise, and pontificate

in voluminous waffle, clogging spaces with sterile volubility,

consciences clogged, hard hearts twisted,

greed terraced mindscapes and bodyscapes, carousing

in convoluted cavorting

 

Waste dances indecent

in the wining and dining,

want swells, ballooning

sweeping fragile frames and staggering souls

their mother whining,

along to painful grinding end points

 

a procession preceded by a small wooden box

announces the end of one cycle,

the prolongation of the circle,

the festering sore enlarges

speaking the language of a cycle of infamy

and a dooming narrowing circle

closing in on the undying hope of mothers with dying children

their throats and lives throttled by the plump hands

of greed, callous, grabbing and choking