caution: a photographer must tread gingerly
filming only with lenses positioned at the corner of his eyes.
on Black Street, the walls are cartridge papers
bearing paintings of silhouettes
humanoid shapes flickering to neon lamps,
flashes of headlamps;
here, you’ll see a girl’s hands grow
barbed wires to be flung around
pot-bellied men in agbada
you’d hear lassoes whizzing pass your ears, trapping things
above, starry skies are mistaken for fireflies
caught in the web of a black widow
as driftage cut in shapes of a lot,
they float as to a black hole,
as to a waterhole.
children knowing not to look back,
though, looking over their shoulders.
they go panting this way & that;
flaneurs with the red, smouldering ash of cigars
glowing into bloodshot eyes
drawn to everything with a danger sign.
there is this air about you’ll feel; tailwinds
of the ghosts of dead dreams
the voices in your head would come out to play
in the bodies of other boys urging you on
the eve of your necklacing.
a place of shadows cursed with the dance
of the preacher’s lost sheep.
because a DJ plays a charmer’s tune
whose rhythms dulls & faints the voices:
conscience, the shepherd’s, Holy Books…
still they trudge on, children of the wild
far little familiar with the fisher’s swooping skill,
yet sure how to eat the bait clean
from off the hook without getting caught.
a people forearmed only with reckless hope
their poisoning by this waterhole
to coincide with an antidote.
becoming ‘them,’ ‘they’: a survivalist’s travelogue
Psalm 127 : 2 “it is vain for you to rise up early,
to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows”
father: boy, you must kill that voice showing you the map to that place
watch the head you’re about to dent with a gravedigger’s shovel
me: aunty nneka said it is where i will become a man
father: [he chewed the silence & kola into pulp; then into acrylic for the canvas
that’ll become my pillow case, to paint the anatomy of want]
the streets are full of them: shadows in coats of many colours || my aunt is one of them; she wears their scent; leaves the tailwind of a winged donkey on an errand || she breastfeeds a newborn with a skin of manila envelopes, eyes of glass
the palmar flexion creases on her husband’s palms converge at the waistline of her housekeeper || he gags me with naira notes||
she returns to install Google maps in my head || leads me to the cliff, & pushes me down: uche, honeymoon is over! you sleep too much in this house || a chattering mockingbird perched on the tip of her tongue
I drop into this orchestra of dissonance
the main instruments are car horns
there’s a conductor with naira notes folded into a baton
footfalls swallowed/dulled by squelching tyres
potholes bearing a froth of mud wine,
await its secret recipe from a man’s veins.
[the clink of wineglasses to a toast is the sound of a crash,
the ‘cheers’: the bellowing siren of an ambulance]
the folks here wear blindfolds to keep their eyes from the synonym of hustle
on the chalkboard of my lips. I call it ‘barren labour’
& they back me, lest whiteout jumps in sputters from my mouth
to erase a certain sacred line tucked between their wrinkled foreheads
on a vigil, I soon find out my landlord’s voice contains 90% caffeine
[in seven days, i become they, them]
as I stuff my ears against the violin sonatas of mosquitoes,
the ghosts of father’s words finds
my empty belly a cave to echo.