the poet in port Harcourt (part i)

my grandmother’s head, wet with blood and incoherence, sits under my bead,

all this time, myself and some friends, waiting for maulidi, walking in black sand, saying, this is how

to love your people. me walking on any kind of bridge to get rid of her head,

the weight of it on my back, language time and fatality, a premonition, like a bag of wild mangoes, or

the taste of snails in lime water, me saying this is the bridge we must walk over,

your head heavy, your kikuyu unreadable, your love for my mother unknowable,

the ocean too far for me to fling this thing, this head, the river black and unmoving.

and all my friends will see the thing I carry – your head in a backpack –

the quiet homage to a friend who says, ‘I love you’. what does medusa dream of?

how is it that after your body there’s a field of nightmares?

pissing all over your mother’s rhododendrons. what’s jujuu, and what’s

rhumba, what’s benga? what’s highlife? and the poet of the clinical blues telling

us all these things by the poolside, not reading to us. promenade.

what is a threat of drowning?

all for you, baby, all for you.

a short exchange of words – arrivals and departures,

you saying nothing, meaning everything. back to the smells of your house,

meatballs and pasta. me going on and on about zephyrion, god of the west wind, british

architecture, hydrangeas, nigerian efficiency, all these men

who’ve never known kindness, and, here’s B, talking about the brotherhood of man.

a woman at a nigerian airport – Lagos – is a disposable thing,

and will you give me all your money, for nothing?

I’ve had enemies who killed my cats, stepped on my water lilies,

I wish them nigerian citizenship.


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