These are the Sayings of Kabolobari

Unfortunate Oyibo in Poems

Illustration for the Unfortunate Oyibo in Poems collection

Title Piece

59. She Used to Be a Singer
Jump to 59. She Used to Be a Singer

As a singer
     she was sweeter
     than Asa.

More affected.
More touching, moving.
More seductive.

But she didn't
     sell as much.

But she noticed
     sales were through the roof
     with Khalifa,
     the rapper.

And she could rap.
So, she took up rapping.
She went to the school.

She found
     she did even better
     rapping than Khalifa did.

Now she raps.
And she can.
She still sings, too.

Only not as much.

But neither is she
     selling as much as Khalifa
     nor anywhere near Asa.

As for fame,
     she wondered why
     she wasn't booed off stage yesterday.

Were they impressed?
Your guess is as good
     as ours.

58. A Renouncing of Love
Jump to 58. A Renouncing of Love

A thought crossed my mind
today. Just a thought.
But let it not make me
out to be hopeless.

To seem so, hopeless.
I'm not. And you know that.
I am not hopeless.
Things will look up. I know.

I believe. I've always.
And you know that, we.
But I just don't know when.
Can hardly tell anymore.

The thought—should we let
each other go? I mean—
perhaps, there's a man out there
who could take better care...

Just waiting, as if
for permission, of you.
To ease the money woes.
Sad. Yes, sad. Very sad.

But, maybe. Just a thought.
Just a thought, my love.

57. Experimental Gun
Jump to 57. Experimental Gun

     Over a hundred years ago or so
There lived (or died) a wealthy Iboman
Who sold up his stocks and one kidney
To buy the first gun his country ever made.
     An experimental gun, meant for man,
How lethal it had to be had to be tested.
But he didn't buy it just to test it—
Yes, he'd bought it 'to delete his memory.'
     That he did was noble for him and his
Country, war brewing, for it proved it took
Seven unintermittent shots close-range
To kill every moving thing in a man.
     Every morbid thing plus all his women—
     The bare titillating breasts his head held.

     According to his diary—he kept many—
     Here's why he proved that definitive test:
     "When I thought I'd acquitted my soul of
These haunting flicks, yes, I'd only begun.
While occupations at least prevent daydreams,
I could as well resign to death not sleeping.
     For closing the eyes provides the reel, screen,
On which my brain pleasures in casting shots
More striking, more lifelike, more... I've fondled
All luscious breasts I appeased my heart by.
     It's these voluptuous bodies—tons of—
For my mind trips to more than I ever saw,
Or took, and plays back—it's this perfect porn
Behind closed eyes I'm deleting with your gun."

56. A Good Book
Jump to 56. A Good Book

No one grows up
     thinking beyond these
     few roles for the teeth—
     to chew, to speak, to show.

But God so formed 'em
     competing for space
     in every mouth—
     that tongues may explore.

The teeth were meant to
     trap bits for the tongue
     to explore.
To explore. To explore.

The sensation is sweet—
     this exploring of tongue's—
     that it leaves the body.

Especially when the latter
     is laid upon
     a good book.
A good, good book.

55. Camomile Sting
Jump to 55. Camomile Sting

There's a million zones
     the sun can catch about
     the core of a camomile.
And God knows that.
And her ten petals are all smiles.
God knows that, too.

There's a million zones
     about any flower
     the sun can catch.
God knows that, too.
The sun bathes 'em. They smile.
God knows that, too.

God knows that. Everything.
A heart bleeding from
     a camomile sting.
God knows that, too. Everything.
God knows everything.
Everything. God knows everything.

54. Telepathy
Jump to 54. Telepathy

It floated under the glass table,
     an inch fingerbreadth there
away from my laptop on top.
     It perched. There.

I struck with the flat of my palm
     immediately. Pow,
and watched its star carcass in blood—
     my blood—just now.

It was my breath that invited it,
     not telepathy; but,
last time I tarried before striking
     I lost the smut.

Earth's a million mosquitoes needing
     blood for what blood does. But,
if I strike—just strike—won't again lose
     blood to a smut.

53. Jah Put a Cold in My Rib
Jump to 53. Jah Put a Cold in My Rib

The deep cleavage of the maiden
Sliding thru sheeny brown breasts— 


Composed of a naked bosom—


The top that partial showed 'em
Was first to triumph over my eyes.

The eyes are a puppet for powers.
They go wherever I set them; but,

I commuted control to another.
Or they controlled my control.


I could regain control if I
Looked away but I looked up. 
And down.

Man does not do well without woman.
It's evil to repress good feelings.
Women are abundant, one can't do!

Such thoughts. 

More, and I was preparing
Another long list of excuses...

Stolen waters are sweet. 
Another slice secretly eaten.

Jah put a cold in my rib
And a woman for sib.

I ought to exaggerate a chill.
I've been encapacitied so to!

I have judged myself already. Note.
Guilty of misdirected worship.

Eve did not pepper Adam, 
So it won't be right taking the garden of Eden. 
Bring it today!

52. Immigrants of the Stomach
Jump to 52. Immigrants of the Stomach

If the Atlantic few miles away
Releases just a fraction of wind
From its always brooding surface
They'll all be gone in what must be
But a fraction of a second.
But that can never happen, no,
They never heard it happen before;
So, no, that is not their problem.

The people of tarp settlements.
All of West Africa got word
That Lagos could use more people.
The people of tarp settlements.
Not bankers, not engineers, no,
Not blue- or white- or pink-collar,
But people enabled to a home
Since tarps get condemned, planks too.

God might know the fare of their fate.
But, no, that is not their problem.
Government may know when it's time
To sic bulldozers after them
But that is not their problem. Still,
If the Sea changes its mind, or God,
Or the City takes some action,
Like here, they'll sure move elsewhere.

So, that is not there problem, still.
Their problem is everyone's problem—
Stomach—and how to keep it filled.
Why theirs has had them on the brink
Ever, or how theirs, again is
Not their problem—no, maybe God's.
For from what they can find themselves
They find joy thriving under tarps.

Lagos life holds fewer joys than these:
There's Indomie and eggs, bread and tea,
All sorts of fries cook in their woks....
The women understand the men well—
They know when eyes say what they say,
Children, look, a new village's born!
There's Mr. Bigg's, bars, billiards, brawls...
Even their night lights outshine VI's. 

The women don't smoke, being women,
Nor the children being children, but
You can't find a boy not puffing—
Mechanics, trouble-shooters, painters,
Panel-beaters, priests, truck-pushers,
Sugarcane-shellers, weed-growers,...
The trades are endless, and smoking
Seems number one on their joy list.

They couldn't care less then when
Tinubu brought his bulldozers—
This elsewhere was already secured—
Tarps are condemned, planks everyday.
Children, look, a new village's born,
Oblivious, obviously, of their
Transition because all they'd done
Was follow the lead of their stomach.

All they do is follow their stomach.
The people of tarp settlements.
So just like everyone else does—
To obey our most vital impulse.
There problem's everyone's problem.
Only problem with their problem is
Wherever elsewhere they secure is
The slum the City must get rid of.

51. Undying
Jump to 51. Undying

That firefly of yesterday's—
     really, what could it mean?
Was that really its glow I still
     could see or was it a dream?

For after I struck it with the broom
     against the white ceiling deck
of my bedroom where I resolved
     a firefly an awkward pick—

for we're used to seeing them at night
     glimmering in the grass
across the field as far as the eyes
     can see like fallen stars—

not in a bedroom—my bedroom—
     but where I left it lying
on the marble floor, I returned
     and found its glow undying.

Steady, albeit a little dimmer,
     but steady, undying.
After over 40 minutes away—
     there it lay undying!

I'd gone downstairs to chat to Big Swish.
     We talked about evolving
Nigerian Music and how we can
     make it a true loving.

I returned, 40 minutes later
     and found the glow undying;
from the trash where I dumped it and
     went to sleep, it lay undying!

49. Repentance
Jump to 49. Repentance

Just sighting 'em calms me so much.
There's this sweet restfulness I feel—
Ha—like all my nerves had tautened
Unnoticed by my senses, which
Relax with a tranquilized heart,
Thrill-treated to the eye's delight.

This, you know's, what nicotine does
So people can tolerate tar.
Ha—we go; 'feels so good', we puff.
One could blame God for hiding lungs!
They're kept where they're kept for good.
Like the eyes where I have 'em for good!

One could blame the heart that craves.
The brain that flouts all discipline.
One could blame the body vanquished
By insistence. Tobacco companies.
Fashion houses. Internet. The Internet!
Women standing for provocation!

One could blame anything, anyone.
God too—you don't seem ready yet,
Ever, to battle these, get rid of these!
Nor is man able to swap hearts. O!
The women remain—the eyes too—
The unschoolable heart that craves!

One could blame anything, anyone.
My brain that in pleasure disobeys.
My body outridden by insistence.
Restfulness to my eyes, to my heart.
But restfulness of the wrong sort.
God, you know the restfulness I seek!

You know the restfulness I seek! God!
Now my eyes rest on these and—ah—
The wrong sort feels like the one sort
Of restfulness I really desire!
Blame anything, blame anyone, but
God, it's my boisterous desperate heart!

48. Sleep Debts
Jump to 48. Sleep Debts

I'm jealous—God, green, white!
This isn't fair! What—10 hours?
He goes to bed and sleeps 10 hours?
10 hours. 10 and up and again?

He slept 10 hours—he had to,
he had to make up for the week.
10 hours wasn't even enough, he said,
to pay up the week's debt of sleep.

I'm not sure he could ever—
but if he could do 10 straight hours—
ever do 12! He could! He said he did!
God, this is terribly unfair!

I'm so jealous, green, angry, red!
Why, if he needed 24 hours
each weekend of sleep and got it
to pay the week's sleep debt,

God, what're you doing if not
to add 48 years for me because
that's how many years of hours
I need to pay up my sleep debts!

47. This Long Distance
Jump to 47. This Long Distance

The inflammation—whoa,
     it's gone, completely.
   Feels so good rubbin' 'em now!

Thank you, my love—ah.
     But, this long-distance,
     this long-distance's killing me!

My imagination—I'm
     sure the pain was only there
     in my imagination.

All the time—but,
     the brain chose to put it here.
     It had to put it somewhere.

Hellish inflammation—I
     literally burned just to
     feel or touch 'em. The tension!

Now we just did it—and
     zap all the inflammation's gone!
     It feels so good, my love. Ah!

It feels so good—ha,
     this long-distance, what can we do?
     The tension—can't stand it any longer!

46. What the Children Wanted
Jump to 46. What the Children Wanted

When we would skitter down the dara tree, 

     we knew what we wanted.

     It wasn't shade that we wanted—

but cool shade had looked the obviously.

It wasn't shade that we wanted—never there.

     Ever there—ripe figs we wanted.

     Sunny ovary stars we hunted—

figs like sunny stars across the green sky there.

That we hunted was the way our hearts went—

     we never threw sticks and stones,

     naked black bodies, tender bones—

to what we could pick they went, the winds sent.

What we wanted was what we could pick.

     What we hunted was our heart—

     dara stoned plucked were tart!

The dara we loved was soft flesh, sweet milk!

What we wanted we got from patience,

     gathered in the grass, waiting,

     picking the winds' casts, waiting,

waiting the waiting we wanted, hunted, made sense.

For all the sense in Kaani, the world, we waited.

     O, yes, some drove nails into the bark—

     a superstition they marked—

which, the dara casting no figs thus, must hate it...

The superstition grew my village was sick—

     never happening, ever haunting,

     ever never the children's wanting—

what the children wanted was what they could pick...

45. Defining Temperature
Jump to 45. Defining Temperature

has only one eye
that does it for her.

We talk about it—
that one eye—
the way we do; makes it two.

We say, easterly—
it's going where
the Sun is—same one eye.

Then, an easterly—
coming from where
the Sun is—it was born there.

Same temperature—
one eye—easterly
and an easterly—we say it,

The way we do—
we make it two; say, 3—
easterly, easterly, easterly.

same temperature—one eye.
the apple-pie—let it cool a little.

Then, easterly—
come eat with me
the one temperature eye.

44. A Fist of Garlic
Jump to 44. A Fist of Garlic

The things

they found left

in my head,

and not on paper,

were at my death.

What can they do with them?

What can they do with me?

What can they do with anyone?

There's nothing they can do if

There's nothing they can do with


Maybe they left me

a fist of garlic

and a hand of ginger.

Around me—

look, in the casket—

do you see them?

43. Sante's Man
Jump to 43. Sante's Man

He switched the bag
around the cup a bit
and let a pleased smile
light up his cheeky face
from the woody note of
the echinacea brew.

He'd chill here a bit
at the dining and think.
He set down the mug
on the petaled placemat
and sat cross-legged, smug.
He should read a bit.

Bedroom is only
for sleep and sex.
Sante's fast asleep now—
snoring—she made him sick!
Five minutes so far—
no buzzing, no bites.

That's nice, he'd recline
and finish the John Grisham.
They could tell his breath.
Wherever they were gone!
His apartment was
infested with them.

Shutting his room door
at the slightest hint
of dark kept it care free.
It was Badore
and the daily grind with guests
exposed the living room.

A number of pages into
sweet oxytocin now
and pah! he swatted
after the bite on his shin—
death in blood. They're here—
they knew his breath.

He knew they knew his breath.
Just get a desk for the room!
Again, he brushed it aside—
he hated the idea—
Bedroom's only
for sleep and sex!

he emptied his cup
and ambled to the room.
He glared at his wife—
she had the sleep, the sex;
he wakefulness, blood!

He should just leave the door
open! He should buy
the spray made in UK—
no, such smells oppressed him.
His eyes flitted to
the clock—5 am.

Time for another tea.
Remember MJ.
Look, take the job on VI,
take the office maid!
Work late, even sleep back...
He knew why he wasn't sleeping.

42. The Uncovering
Jump to 42. The Uncovering

Camomile was always camomile
And my heart had other thrill to thrill.
My mind took its temperamental runs
After every flower under the sun.

Life was good—everyone had a chance.
Then came camomile, the endless trance
Over a thrill like any other thrill's
What to make of a brain through the mill.

My brain is an unmovable sun
But has a mind set on fire that runs
Like only one set of eyes were of gold,
Waving hands of happiness aglow.

It's the camomile—no, it's your heart!
It's the devil that brings it apart—
To the brain, mind, eyes, even my skin,
Every turn is its demand to win!

I know there's reasons for camomiles—
Even as there's reasons for every thrill—
And, no, God isn't taking those away.
I'm entranced for life if this heart stays!

41. White Birds
Jump to 41. White Birds

Two white birds
with yellow heads
were seeing things in the sedge.

Prancing dark
barely feathered legs,
back and forth, beaking things.

White birds,
yellow heads, tawny sedge,
grubs—things to eat, back and forth—

The innocence of meal time—
the ignorance of white birds
eating things. Unsuspecting insects.

White birds,
yellow heads, wobbly legs,
grubs—things to eat.

Wide open jaws. Open,
lined with teeth. Daggerlike.
A long log of wood lying. Waiting.

Yellow beaks
picking things—
oblivious to territorial change. Eating.

Jaws closed. Clasped.
Fluttering, none.
Whimpering, none. Pungency, none.

There were two white birds,
with yellow heads
picking things in the sedge.

40. A Missing Sun
Jump to 40. A Missing Sun

I only hoped they'd learn from the sun
Stationed with none a planetary run—
Only hoping because they'd been sold
And would resist doing as they're told.

Looking at the panels on their roofs—
Even the goats make sense of their hoofs!—
They've come as far as me, obviously.
That's fine—they could've started from me!

It breaks the dawn and gradually grows
Brighter and brighter until it goes—
That is, from where they stand and high-five
Each other for what they've achieved alive.

They've come as far as me on this one.
They could've started from me and on
And on but chose to waste millenniums
Hunting a missing sun that never moved!

39. Water Is Drug
Jump to 39. Water Is Drug

Once I invited my friend to dinner
Who wouldn't mind the stethoscope
About his tie-apprehended neck
While the hymn was being sung!

But for one last miraculous bit
Of memory nobody dies in church—
At least, not in a lifetime—which,
If at all, is best left unrevived.

Keeping with tradition, for starter,
Fruit salad was served; and while I
Began devouring from my bowl,
He was just forking thru the slices.

Admittedly, the bowl was large—
My wife's that generous with portion—
But what was it he must be sure of
Before taking up a single piece?

Did he need a microscope, I joked?
Was it about the raisins or pear?
What was wrong or didn't look right
In that bowl of fruits before him?

Nothing! He was just concerned about
"Drug interaction." "What? It's salad!"
His brow furrowed as he looked at me
And whispered, "Even water is drug!"

38. Welcome to Badore
Jump to 38. Welcome to Badore

You should've worn the white socks.
Those thick ones that're knee-long
With your cotton pants over them.

However dark they love it,
They can't travel further than your
Ankle where they'd dance and quit...

Ouch! Look, it's poking right through
My sock! Such nasty bites—ouch!
Is this how it is around here?

While those sombre clouds and
Crickets go about their business,
We should be enjoying our talk!

I told you, your socks are loose, black.
Wrong choice if you're to enjoy
The nights from my backyard balcony!

Welcome to Badore, my friend.
You thought the night's chilly, right?
They should be freezing in the sedge?

Blood's warm and that's what they seek.
Your British breath's drawn them from
The grass and garbage and here they are...

Let's try something—let's cut you
And leave a small pool of blood
On the floor. They should go sucking that!

See you, unfortunate oyibo—
It's warm, fresh blood these things seek!
Just go dress right and come back here!

37. Heaven
Jump to 37. Heaven

The way you enjoy
this thing
with your wife,

Are you sure you can
leave her
to heaven?

Of course, I know you'd
say that—
without her

You're not willing to
stay there;
then except

It comes to you different
than does
all of us...

Can you wait till she
joins you?
Will be tough!

36. The Stick of Airegin
Jump to 36. The Stick of Airegin

Child, what you see write and you must declare
All of them to them just as you see them.
And he took me to the huge rock amidst trees
So lush the huge rock was completely hidden.

On a couch was a crude-black robust woman—
Aggressively large breasts dancing on her chest—
That a few men of pale skin were squeezing.
Her children were fleeing for her breasts shriveled!

And the huge rock gave a sudden shudder.
The pale-skinned men quickly fetched her and fled,
And the rock was dissolving into rubble,
Green grass all round swallowing it greedily.

Where it once towered a single stick stood—
It was the Stick of Airegin in my hand.
The pale-skinned men were bringing her back
And her children and peoples from all corners.

They were looking at the Stick of Airegin
With great admiration and heaving sighs.
There was sprouting a vast field of lush green
Vegetation, all sorts of precious stones...

I was brought to a stop with bemusement.
Child, it's just as you have seen. Declare
Before those whose hearts are on the huge rock
Those seeking royalties from her breast milk:

There will no more be North and his peoples
Nor South and all the peoples with her,
Nor the huge rock and her costly breast milk,
But The Stick of Airegin and pastures new.

35. Home Burial
Jump to 35. Home Burial

The old man left a will to this effect:
(He wrote so much as his diaries show.)
Should I inconvenience you yet again
With details of his words of wishes—

They’re indeed long—we shall depart again
Not realizing our reason to convene;
To bury him where he wants to bury him,
To bury him where he wants to bury him;

I quote, Home is wherever I call home.
Home is where we ought to be buried.
Home is where man asserts himself as man.
I know no other tradition except this—

Upon my property built to my taste,
Wherever you find that—home or not home,
According to existing traditions—
May you lay my soul, if you must. Unquote.

34. Marriage of the Sticks
Jump to 34. Marriage of the Sticks

Child, you have no idea how marriage works,
They'll say to you. Child, you have no idea
How marriage works—a child of yesterday!
Still, you do before them as I've shown you!

They'll dismiss you, saying, how can he know—
A boy of yesterday—how diverse we are?
How only but errors of powerful hands
And sins of our fathers brought us together?

But you must do before them as I've shown you!
Grab the North holding out its manly hands
To squeeze the succulent breasts of the South—
He'll be as one stick in your tender palm.

You must do before them as I'm showing you.
Grab the South letting her bosoms be fondled
In your other palm—she'll be one stick,
And you must write on it The Stick of the South.

On the other stick, The Stick of the North.
Before those whose hearts are on the huge rock.
And those demanding royalties for the milk
Of her breasts you must do as I've shown you!

Do not be afraid for I am with you!
Then bring the two Sticks close to each other
So they become but one stick in your hand—
The Stick of Airegin—they'll be but one!

For there'll no more be North and his peoples
Nor South and all the peoples with her,
Nor the huge rock and her costly breast milk,
But The Stick of Airegin and pastures new.

33. A Single Gilded Lightning Streak
Jump to 33. A Single Gilded Lightning Streak

I saw two moons on a grey sky.
They were extraordinarily
Bigger than moon as we're used to.

The one was white, in front of me.
The other duller a foot behind.
Both momentarily lifeless.

I think I blinked and the white one
Sank into the grey sky now black,
And I lost sight of the duller one.

Then the white one emerged below—
Now a bright bluish patch of sky
And started sailing or floating fast...

I reckon the speed to be thrice
The speed of moon as we're used to.
Fast above my head and the roof.

I lurched and made a dash after it
Through dark tunnel to the other end
And caught it before I lost it.

A white moon slashed the black sky,
Was swallowed by it, and left
A single gilded lightning streak.

32. Blood Spots
Jump to 32. Blood Spots

You love the room dark—
Doctors say it's great to sleep—
The dark makes them dance!

Your blood is so sweet
They've forgotten that they sing;
Or can't spare the time.

They dance about the hairs,
Noting the insertion points,
Celebrating them.

Those local doctors
Mothers are fond of because
Their needle's painless.

Mindful of your sleep,
They suck their fill of sweet blood
And are dazed by it,

Which is how you know—
You roll and break bags of blood.
Blood spots, you got drained!

31. Sonia Simone
Jump to 31. Sonia Simone

A voice came falling and rising,
In the room. It was Sonia Simone
Reading a romantic love poem.

The lilt in her American accent
Carried within soft puffs of breaths,
Whispers of natural undulations.

Accompanied by the Claudia Quintet,
It kept tumbling into the air down
With effortlessness like Niagara,

With all the freedom of Niagara
Into my ear, into my head,
Into my heart, and all over me.

It kept rising and falling until
The final thrum of the violin, when
Soft hands pulled me to soft breasts.

I was swooning in the vortex
And effervescence like at the base
Where Niagara ended its passion.

Where Niagara ended its passion—
My tenth thrill and shiver of delight—
My longing soul ended its struggles.

30. Eye Ball
Jump to 30. Eye Ball

Stand right here, look straight at him.
Search his eyes, train yours on their balls.
They all accept feigning gets it—
Once it's penalty it's a goal.

So, if he scores you're not to blame.
But you take the credit if he can't!
Therefore, your best bet is his eyes—
Never lose them—forget the ball!

Forget the ball and search his eyes.
Never lose contact with those eyeballs.
Good. You're doing good. Whistle's gone—
Go for it. Got it. Got it. It's his shame!

29. He's Dead. Dead. Dead!
Jump to 29. He's Dead. Dead. Dead!

He's dead. But I'm worried about his eyes.
Close them. They yield—so humbly. So supply.
Now what? Kick him in the groin. Hard. Harder!
Stand him up. Very heavy! Let him drop!

No. The floor'll smash his head! But he's dead!
This was not how we agreed to treat him!
Neither am I loving any of it;
But do you think he knows of any of this?

When fucking the third girl on the dance floor,
He screamed it was the best way to live—
Enjoy life while alive because you won't
When you die and you do not know when, that!

Do you imagine he's now saying to himself,
At least I fucked three women in one night,
Downed a bottle of Hennessy all alone,
Rocking the best music the world ever played?

How can we know he's not saying that to himself,
Cheering himself up wherever he's gone?
But, that's why we did all this to his deadness—
He's gone nowhere. He's dead. Dead. Dead!

28. A Rocket to Mars
Jump to 28. A Rocket to Mars

All the sons of God took their seats,
Gathered about the Almighty,
Dazzling as Sun at 2 PM—
But not beyond their tolerance.

Even Satan too was present—
Flanked by Pandemonium and Pock,
The hundred-headed demons from Greece.
But God didn't have their time today.

He called out to Patience, Patience;
And to Endurance, Where are you?
Here I am, they each answered in turns.
Where are we on the man down there?

Then Patience and Endurance spoke
And Heaven in its entirety shook,
Satan's face was red from rage.
God scoffed at his helplessness!

Thoroughly, we've tested the man out.
His scores on patience and endurance
Have surpassed Earth and heavens! Good!
God said, now let him go conquer the world!

Then God dismissed the crowd and went on
About His business of a new Earth.
Satan, having lost his grip of the man,
Flew a rocket to Mars and burned to death.

27. Precious Mouthful
Jump to 27. Precious Mouthful

Water would go up a wick too!
Or how'd you explain losing my tea—
At least a mouthful of my mug—
Because I let one-third of the bag
Hang down from the lip of the mug?

My funniness in not liking
The bag lie lifeless at the base
But lap about the wall of the mug
And drip down all its content till
I'd downed the last drop of tea!

In a few minutes letting it cool
There was a pool on the marble floor
With more drops of my mango tea
Following from the glass table to it.
Wasn't that capillary action?

But science said water'd not do that,
Except forced—Kerosene would naturally.
O, I forgot, it was now tea,
Not water. Then I'd not be surprised
Or lose that very precious mouthful!

26. Hello, Subconscious
Jump to 26. Hello, Subconscious

Hello, Subconscious, how deep are you?
I've been told from looking at the man—
His forehead, eye bags, cheekbones, etc—
You can tell how long he's sleep-denied.

That accepted, now you can know how long
I've been sleep-deprived. But tell me
What the heart and brain and mind are not—
What's my body really demanding?

I've quit coffee down to decaf tea.

Twice I've overdosed on Valium!

I've meditated nights to the end—

Jazz, stories, blankness, everything!

Hardly anything I haven't tried!

Yet, I've remained sleep-deprived. Do tell

What the heart and brain and mind cannot—

What's my body demanding to sleep?

That steam from your cup, what is it?

Camomile & Spearmint—it's from Twinings.

Drink it—it's good for you. But let me tell

What your body really needs and demands.

Someone to chat to in bed each night

Till sleep comes and consumes you both.

Someone to make sweet love to after tea,

To fully tranquillize your tautened nerves...

Someone whose twin robust breasts settle by

And warm you through each night—you may not know

But to be sure of mornings beside her.

Then you'll no more dread relentless nights.

I'll release much more pleasurable sleep,

Half what your body's demanding, half

Being that someone—Look, it's way overdue—

If she's yours truly and yours to keep.

Thanks, Subconscious. I'll go get me that one! 

Stop. Don't go. You don't have to go.

It does not belong to you to go—

There she is, ambling her bulk your way.

She's called Princess—daughter of a King.

You may call her what you may call her.

Take her in—yours truly, yours to keep.

It's the fullness sleep demands of body.

25. Easter Bangers
Jump to 25. Easter Bangers

It's these damned Oshodi kids again blowing bangers—
But we'd had CP warn them to steer off the transformers!

Ah, these kids don't listen! But then are we not in April?
Are they now throwing bangers in Easter? Easter bangers?

See, the way that thing's spraying over the transformer—
It's no fireworks—that's the transformer sparking badly!

Didn't you turn off the light? But I told you to—
As soon as you smell a wind coming, off the light!

How would I know a storm was coming—it looked calm.
Yes, the wind had blown in all directions but it was soft!

Never predict on these winds. Always turn off the lights
As soon as there's a slight indication of rain!

Now go down and turn off the lights! What, in this rain?
Look, we can't afford to lose another transformer!

24. Father & Son
Jump to 24. Father & Son

The sweetest money to eat is government money—
You can sleep at night without fearing any curse.

And the best place to eat it, I got to tell you,
Is at the federal level—Abuja, my son!

But you must be loyal and play in the right camp.
Share with friends, share with foes, execute big projects.

Execute real big projects, or appear to be.
How about a tower where they can see all Abuja?

It sure would excite Nigerians, right? And the world!
Now you can buy the Senate, the House, and be most loved.

When the next big election comes, forget the top.
Put someone there that the peoples love, admire, and choose.

Then make the campaigns a love affair where the money
Gives every community a sense of belonging.

Look, their jaundiced eyes would offer heartfelt prayers
For your success, family, and generations!

But be very careful where you hang out and what you see
Let them blame themselves for bloated stomachs and thinned buttocks...

23. Soft Woman
Jump to 23. Soft Woman

Don't imagine skeletal fingers
With vice-like grip would wrap your hand
While lion claws bite into your palm

In that dreadful handshake of death.

Yes, it'll be smooth, slim fingers
Of a luscious woman—warm, firm—
Taking you into her world. For life.

22. James
Jump to 22. James

What time is it?—I glanced at the Breitling
On my meaty hairy wrist and nodded—
Candlelit dinner with Genevieve. Great!
Genevieve, sweet, ah, Nollywood's finest!

Where was that she picked again? Al Basha!
I'd picked Protea Hotel Ikoyi Westwood—
If nothing, the luscious view of the sea.
Can't blame her—she's in love with Lebanese.

What am I wearing? What'd James Bond wear?
Now grab the Brioni tux; and, be suave!
Remember, she loves looking at the legs—
Go for the Louis Vuitton waxed alligator...

Hey, she hates it when you're late to dinner!
Austin, quick, pull the Vanquish this way—
James, I won't take another pushing from you!
Pain from this mat and the cold floor's enough!

21. Sleepless Misunderstood
Jump to 21. Sleepless Misunderstood

Am I not sleeping because
I'm not holding a woman?
Or because I keep repeating
That to myself in bed alone?

Am I sleepless these many weeks
Because she's away and I can't
Simply take another or that
I keep repeating that to myself?

Hasn't my brain tried answering that?
The racing of my heart each night?
Endless tossing and turning
Of a deprived body in bed?

It's my mind—it just sits on top
And keeps awake—a nasty Abacha
Refusing to communicate
Purpose—sleepless. Misunderstood!

20. Obiageli
Jump to 20. Obiageli

Where are you staying in Lagos now, uncle?
Oshodi. Oshodi, I answered.
But why're you calling by this time—
Look, Obiageli, it's 12 midnight!

I'm sorry, uncle, I couldn't sleep.
I can't sleep at night anymore—
The frogs. Owls. Crickets. Wolves. Bats,
All awake and are after us—the noises!

But, uncle, did I wake you up?
No, Obiageli, no you didn't, why?
You told me Oshodi never sleeps
That I was free to call you anytime.

It's how they're building in the village—
It's each family their own neighborhood.
Even Si them have moved from their hut
By us into their block house on a far away farm!

Obiageli, It's midnight, what's your point?
Each time they move like that forest grows
In their place and the night-alives take over!
There's all sorts of scary screamings at night!

The village is expanding, uncle,
And Highness says it's a very good thing.
But it's empty and quiet during the day
Except the market, and creepy at night.

Uncle, when are you bringing me to Oshodi?
Because of noises at night in the village?
Yes, uncle. Mama and Eze, they're uh—
Used to it—they're snoring now. I can't!

Obiageli, you're funny. If it's noise 
Alone that's making you want to leave village
Forget it—Oshodi is not for you.
Really, Oshodi is not for anyone!

But didn't I tell you people to endure?
Soon I'll finish my big house in Badore.
I'll bring all of you here—both Mama
And Eze, all of you to me in Badore.

Uncle, it's not noise, not noise like that-o!
You better hurry—it's fly-by-nights—
Every night one person disappears...
Hope we're not all gone before you finish-o...

19. Look Beyond Stars
Jump to 19. Look Beyond Stars

Mosquitoes in Badore are friends,
Not that they don't bite or that they sing—
All mosquitoes are biters and singers—
They bite but leave no malaria.

Keen on the featurefulness of nights here
I alter my clock to a bat's for just a bit.
I'm especially interested in the stars,
Which I half watch, half clap mosquitoes.

Like many other stargazers here
I got used to them after several months.
But as soon as I did understand them
I keep at stargazing with repellent.

Their business is not to bite anyone,
Sing you a song or give you malaria.
Yes, they have continued to bite us
And whine up their monotonous song,

But as with thousands of attractions
And distractions at night in Badore,
The mosquitoes' business is but one—
To help stargazers look beyond stars.

18. Die Yesterday
Jump to 18. Die Yesterday

There used to be but one way to die
In the old days, and man had no choice
But to yield—to go to sleep one night...
The world woke without them the next day.

It was an excellent way to die;
Not because it was the only way
But you had to be extremely old—
Some, of course, invited it when they wanted.

I'd like very much to die then—
It was better. Peaceful. Not like today.
There's just too many ways to die
You have no choice and are confused.

I hate very much to die today
But have no choice and am confused!

17. Unfortunate Oyibo
Jump to 17. Unfortunate Oyibo

A poplar is growing on my neighbor's plot.
Like the bamboo palms competing with it,
The grass, it's merely a growth of the night
On a yet-to-be-developed property.

[Full Disclosure] To my neighbor, na just tree.
But I insist it's some species of poplar—
One so rapid at growth in just 3 years
It's towering my other neighbor's 2-story.

Not a single tree was spared when he built—
Human habitation is more, of course,
Important than these space thieves, these trees.
And a neighborhood ought to grow houses!

When I observe the poplar's growth and shade,
Before the young alligators notice me
And hide in the grass the poplar's stunted—
Or the grasses are just too lazy to grow,

I contemplate its near future with rue—
The alligators will find another marsh,
Grass is grass whether in Heaven or on Earth,
But it will be cut down as a mere nuisance.

My neighbor's got the money and has to build.
America can call them poplars, whatever,
But this was his own property, his plot,
His country, and his damn living to do.

16. State Money
Jump to 16. State Money

Why they allow Facebook in prison?
That's him again on Eko Atlantic
In front of, what, Marina Hotel?
State money—the women don finish!

English people are so wicked!
There's 7 more years for me to go.
That's why they allow Facebook in prison,
Even if my selfies always go viral.

15. Painting Presidents
Jump to 15. Painting Presidents

Do presidents always play Golf?
Even Goodluck E. Jonathan?
And Kim Jong-un? I mean,
Don't they ever play Drafts? Or Tennis?

Nobody wants to look lazy or to sweat;
Not especially a president.
And even if—that's the world for you—
Paint people the way the world paints them.

14. Neither Yes Nor No
Jump to 14. Neither Yes Nor No

A girl who'd given me the green light
Got real serious suddenly tonight
And asked me Do you have a girlfriend?
Was this the start of something or end?

I wondered about either yes or no,
Which direction will it make her go?
She said neither yes nor no would help her,
And neither yes nor no would hurt her.

It was neither yes nor no she got.
And I wasn't surprised she was not.
Yet it's strange she was neither yes nor no
When I asked if we were good to go!

13. Look at Him!
Jump to 13. Look at Him!

He never grows up.
But he is only a man!
He's fallen between her knees,
Sucking tender breasts without milk...

He'll be at it again.
Tomorrow. Look at him!
Didn't he marry her?
Sure. They never grow up!

12. To Thoughtfulness
Jump to 12. To Thoughtfulness

Everybody dies with something—
Onething—for something. The difference
Is in the language—with or for—something.
With is what I mean now—with something.

With—it's the cancer in his cranium,
Which he insists is benign. To himself,
Of course, or she'd long be another man's.
She's not smart enough faking satisfaction!

It's sex toys in her private corner
Of a bedroom in common. Locked.
Away. Secure—they have their time—
To make good a vow of faithfulness.

It's the woman from his office
Whose heat melted all manly resistance.
She was gone now. And he is back
But'll take her and his cancer to the grave.

11. Come In
Jump to 11. Come In

I thought you'd slept off. Seriously.
Yes, I had. And you woke me up. You!
You keep moving—noticed. It roused me.
Why do you keep moving? Like that?

I think I've got this thing figured.
You know mine's slightly bent left.
It keeps wanting to point in same
Direction as my face each time.

Now, since I've been battling to sleep,
I lay my right on the pillow each time
My neck pains on the left, and each time
I flip I must get it that way too...

That's why you've been moving too much,
All the time your hand going there,
Grabbing it, redirecting its bulk—
Whew. Sorry, put you through this. Come in.

10. Cat Scan
Jump to 10. Cat Scan

Leave them locked with his—filmy, fixed, fearless;
Or fearful without communicating fear,
Wondering whether those are for fight or for flight.

They can't maintain long fright eye contact, perhaps—
Cold, serious, or expressionless glare
Straight into theirs, eye for eye; no, cats cannot.

Hold back the sudden shiver that's run through
And leave your glare locked down where they started.
Try not to shift them or entertain thoughts...

When the cat could no longer keep up—
Those meant flight—he doubled his boneless bulk
And took off. He fled. I didn't. I fought!

Bent over the backyard balcony rail,
Elbows bearing the weight of my uppers,
I thumbed this poem into my Nokia torchlight.

The wee night had lost its darkness to a moon
That flushed it without purpose; my eyes had
Sent a hungry cat off my neighbor's garbage.

9. One Thousand Naira
Jump to 9. One Thousand Naira

Gratitude is a thought left for the heart.
I received a one thousand naira note
Like a piece of one million naira check
Before I'd said amen another morning.

I'd just arisen and picked the few seconds
Available for two thingsgo back to sleep,
Depressed, or dig through the suspense novel.
The second option mixed up with my receipt.

My hand pulled it from the hand that relayed it
This was not the same hand or heart that gave it
But my mind, it refused to take it, blunt!
Well, I kept it by the bed and checked on him.

"Gratitude is a thought for your heart and
He's truly grateful for the thoughtfulness.
However, I'm firmly settled for windfall.
One thousand naira represented none!

8. Straight from Kaani
Jump to 8. Straight from Kaani

This very thick sauce made purely of beans
Is what you guys have chosen to call porridge 
But that I'm dipping Price bread into and 
Getting a better burst of taste, the best
In a very long time, filling my mouth
With more pleasure than mayonnaise or butter
Or both of them put together and spread;

This same thick sauce that I'm filling between
A slice of Price bread, sealing off the ends
And into my mouth and getting more delight 
To my senses than the pies you brought 
From Mega Chicken yesterday. Seriously!
I hope they know somehow that the secret 
To this delight isn't bleached oil from Malaysia

But the virgin palm oil straight from Kaani.

7. Whales in the Deep Blue
Jump to 7. Whales in the Deep Blue

There's no such place as the Devel
And the Deep Blue Sea to be between.
The Deep Blue Sea is not a tough choice,
And, last I checked, the Devel wasn't,
Or hasn't been for billions as such.

Then, there's still Whales in the Deep Blue Sea
And you'll be back to fresher assignments
On Earth in at least three days, that is.
But, three days, that's a lot! Or, rather
Not even enough to make up for lost sleep!

6. Screw, Hole, and Driver
Jump to 6. Screw, Hole, and Driver

What's a screw and a hole have in common?
Fitnessthey can fit into each other.
Fitnessthey can do so snug and perfect.
Sure you mean how well they're driven in?

Yes, how well itthe screwis driven in.
That is, the screw needs a driver to go in.
Otherwise it lies limp, useless, not so?
But, the hole remains useless too, not so?

Because it needs the screw in to complete.
But it holds steady, stable, strong as it
Receives the tightening screw and they lock in.
As snug as driver, screw, and hole agree.

But what usually happens when the screw falls?
That is, when it slips off the driver's grip?
Yes, when it does because it sometimes does
Resist the grip of the one driving it in.

Such times the hole remains steady, stable,
Unmovable. What the driver does is
Watch the screw as it falls to see where it lands
In order to pick it up and drive it in.

But where the driver determines the screw
Deliberately resists grip and tumbles down
It lets it go and gets another screw
For the holestable, steady, unmovable.

5. He Took It
Jump to 5. He Took It

I love to tell it exactly as I know it.
Or exactly as I think I saw it.
If you know better—that is, say your thought
Or your, if you happen to see it too,
View counters mine, at least I made you sure.

Here it is, yes, exactly as I know it.
He came home with one question for dinner—
Is there anything God can do with man's heart?
Nothing. He didn't let us answer or think.
Is there anything man can do about his heart?

O, it was two questions, this was the second one.
Nothing. He still followed through with an answer.
The disappointment that took him away
From the table made him do all he could ask for—
It was his own life—yes, so he took it.

4. Goat for Company
Jump to 4. Goat for Company

Upon sun-gazing this morning
I got company—a black goat.
He too was gazing straight at Sun.

He had stepped in in front of me—
As if to get a better view,
His ears perked up stiff on the head.

If I inched further he inched further.
I paused he paused—both gazes fixed
At the perfect orangeness of love.

When I figured it was time to quit,
He went on to the brush nearby;
I came home to a goatmeat breakfast!

3. Neither Red Nor Green
Jump to 3. Neither Red Nor Green

Take note, people, you're now in Lagos—the city.
It doesn't always say red in the city. No.
Not that it's green because it's not red.

No, it's not. It's neither red nor is it green.
None of those—how far down the street did you look?
Further than Sun where we love to call west?

Did you look to see one of those? Did you?
None of those—doesn't matter how far you look!
It's only you, your choice of road—your life.

2. Conquered Territory
Jump to 2. Conquered Territory

I'll tell you exactly 

     how the man died:

This (listen carefully) is 

     how the man died.

She (I mean his wife) 

     used to call him King.

Yes, used to and she's 

     made peace with that now.

My king—

     she'd welcomed him 

     into the room

That night that'd 

     start his last of telling

Their dear kids how 

     sun grew to be so hot

To melt off stubborn clouds 

     and shine on man.

Yes, I'm your king, 

     am I not, and you are—

Conquered Territory—

     so I made you...

I'm now a lover of sun, 


Of her morning innocence 

     and noon deaths...

I'm what—

     Conquered Territory? 

     Your Conquered Territory?

She said 

     she only had to kick him once— 

It was in his groin. 

     She hadn't to do it again—

He already was 

     Conquered Territory.

     Conquered Territory.

1. Sense of Direction
Jump to 1. Sense of Direction

This morning 

     the sun confused me.

     She told me there was east—

          where she sat.

     But she can't be wrong—

          she's always been there.

     There I've always taken to be west.

I was 

     90-degrees straight from her,

     Walking toward her, 

          my gaze never shifting,

     As she slowly but effortlessly

     Shoved the clouds aside 

          and sat on them.

     Does she sit 

          on clouds or stand on them?

     She presented 

     her orangeness to a world

          that cares mean nothing to, 

          or so I think,

          judging the innocence of her gleam.

In a couple hours 

     she'll go from glory

     to glory of dazzling proportions,      


          retire to her orange innocence...

Why first

     to confuse my sense of direction!

Silence is golden