Joy and Sorrow in One Cup

Joy and Sorrow in One Cup

When you go to war

And you win the battle

And you come home triumphant

Rejoicing that you’ve won

What d’you do when you meet

The families of those fallen at war?

Do you suppress your joy?

Does your sorrow now float atop?


Even before you meet

The loved ones of the fallen

What do you think, what do you say

About your friend, your bosom friend perhaps

With whom you’ve suddenly parted on the battle field?


Joy and sorrow in one cup, but not mixing

And none floating on the other.

The last time a mystery as such surfaced

It was at the Sea of Reeds

But the standing water, even then,

Gave clear joy to the beneficiaries of the stand

They had clear joy indeed —

No mixing, no floating, and no sorrow beside


When a child gets to high places

The mother rejoices, the father celebrates

But what if the child brings shame and sorrow

By acting like a total buffoon

In manners, in society, and at home perhaps?

Do the parents rejoice still? Do they occasionally blame themselves?

Does one blame the other

That a child so loved is devoid of humanity?

There’s joy in an aspect of the child’s success

But there’s sorrow in another, and it’s glaring.


Joy and sorrow

In a cup we carry

Many times in life

Tired Professor Syndrome

Tired Professor Syndrome


Professor Pela used to be good, old students said

But we are yet to see him perform

He’s in almost every committee

He doesn’t mentor any one much, not anymore

Looks like he’s counting the days to retirement

But he has a while to go, I think

Is he burned out? Is he?


Don’t know

He has time to gossip

He has time to give some student the fear of God –

And these are students who already fear the Almighty.

Well, he still knows the stuff if he cares to dust up his notes

But he can’t be bothered, he has turned to a historian, a hundred percent

In our engineering design class


I once heard him say he can’t stand undergraduates

He doesn’t do much research anymore

His graduate students have no shepherd

They know they’re on their own

But his name still brings grants

Only that another does the work

And he stamps his name on the product

Faster than any other could spell “Fast”


What has happened to him, Professor Pela?

“What has happened” you ask?

I hear he has TPS

Who? What? Enh? TP who?

TPS –Tired Professor Syndrome

That’s the Syndrome of Tired Professors,

Professors who are tired but not retired.

Hmm, TPS –Tired Professor Syndrome


Alade Street

 Alade Street


I remember Alade Street

It was a wide one, untarred,

hardly traveled by other than us –

the dwellers of the street

It stretched from the residence of the mayor –

The Baale we called him

All the way to Mrs. Kojo’s residence


There were side roads dispersing from

This quiet, untrunk-like trunk road

Of the tributary roads, two were tarred

The rest were like the trunk –good sand sticking to the ground

They were travelled by the bicycle riders –Raleigh was a synonym for bicycles then


I liked Alade Street, there was no up-down motion of even the bicycles

They just crossed Alade street to go on to Morocco Road and others

So, we were safely out, and flew our kites

We won competitions as one kite reached higher than the rest

And we bade the champion tell us how he got a higher height


Come Harmattan, we ran up and down

Trying to catch the cloud we saw from the other end

But the cloud always cleared before we got this end

And when we looked, the other end now had the cloud.

We never caught a cloud, but we never stopped trying

In Alade Street


Do you have a refuge

Do You Have a Refuge?


Trials of life will come – no need to pray for that

All you need is to be a human being

Failures and disappointments will come – I do not pray it for any

It’s just what it is

If you live long enough, you’ll experience one or many

If you live too short to experience one

Then, one has come by you to your loved ones, and to your community


The question is not, “Will the storm come?”

The question is, “Will I stand, and withstand the storm?”

The questions is, “What will I do when it comes?”

The question is, “Is there a refuge, a shelter in the time of storm?”


Put no trust in man  –man can be funny in an unfunny way

Man and disappointment are bosom buddies

Where you find man, you’ll find disappointment –it’s only a matter of time

So, what or whom do you trust in the time of storm?

Will you have a refuge in the time of storm?


If you have a refuge but don’t know the refuge

You might as well not have one –a refuge

Do you have a refuge in the time of storm?

Do you know your refuge? It may be hard to search in the time of storm


A refuge we all need in the time of storm

It Was a Dream

It Was a Dream


There I was, a sword in my hand

As I killed the lions and tigers that

Leapt to devour me

Crocodiles also, and hyenas, what a bunch!

I killed them all, swift and total


And a docile elephant came to my aid

As if it knew there was one more battle ahead

Mighty as it was, it bowed itself and knelt

So I could hop on its back, a massive back.

I mounted the beast, and away it went

Striding through the jungle, I asked not where it was headed


From the tree branches above on our path

Came a giant snake aiming my head!

As it pulled forward its head to strike at lightning speed

I met its thrust with the sword in my hand.

A beheaded snake, it only uncoiled and slumped to the ground

And I, on my way, comfortably to my abode did proceed

Riding on an elephant that was not perturbed


Ah! It was a dream

The Garden Papa Built

The Garden Papa Built


From scratch he built a garden to behold

He tilled the soil at the back of the house

Added manure to it and readied it for much –

green vegetables, peppers, corn and more

All this time, I did not know that soil was a wealthy one


Papa came on a visit, and he changed the landscape

As he tilled, Mama watered, and stories they told and laughed along

I sat proximally, as close as that can be, and listened to tales and songs

And watched the skillful hands that turned a grass-filled backyard

Into a store-house supply coming shortly at harvest


The corn was sweet, the vegetables massive and fresh

The peppers, O talk about fresh delight!

Papa had come to make the house a country sweet

So, the following plant season, I got up and did as Papa had

I tried a lot but, I think, he had a green thumb

Mama was proud of me, she said,

“Your father has given you a challenge you cannot resist”


I said, “Look, nothing like Papa’s great harvest”

Mama said, “You’ve started, and that matters the most

You’ll get there for we’ve prayed that you all be better than we are”

The Hiding Place

The Hiding Place


The bustling Tarshish is now a skeleton city

With an echo howling from one broken ship to another;

Kadesh-barnea is no longer attractive –the bread therein has become stale;

Jericho is in confusion –the walls have tumbled, and there’s no one to rebuild

Babylon, the beautiful Babylon now gazes at passerby,

The precious stones and jewelry in its port all disappeared

The kings of fame and valor, all gone to their eternal home –

All in the pit with their horses and horsemen.

To what then do you hold for substance through the ages?

To which hideout can one run

In times of tried and of storm?

Find out, there’s a place

And there alone make your refuge

The Talking Drum Again

The talking Drum Again


The talking drum again

It’s still beckoning to me

As it speaks in tongues,

Tongues of the drum

Known only to the initiated


Well, I think it’s talking to me

But then, the drummer only

Has the last say of that

Which he makes the drum to voice

You be right only if he says so


The talking drum, a mystery

The secret of which the drummer holds

But only when he beats the drum

For, as soon as I or another takes the drum

The master’s voice is quickly changed


The talking drum

Padipanpadi, padipmpidi

Patapiti, piridiri

Bobobo o, boswe

Yea, let the drummer have his say in silence

But in the trigger

Of the talking drum

My Mother

My Mother

My mother

The one who bore me

My mother

The one who loved me


My mother

When I cried she wiped my tears

My mother

When I fell ill she was in pain for me


My mother

In prayers for me she always was

My mother

To see me rise was her joy

In Memory

 In Memory

Papa, Mama, my mentors

You’re gone to your rest

My inner one sinks within me

Whenever it dawns on me

That you’re gone, gone, gone


No one makes us laugh

like you do, Papa

No one interjects our tales, Mama

With your type of pointed questions:

“We’re you there”

No one could ask that question

The way you did


We haven’t rolled on the floor

with laughter as you both provided

we tried but your sense of humor, each

is not one easy to come by


But your legacy lives, Mama

And your legacy is alive, Papa

No, they cannot die

They will not die

For our children remember you firsthand

And so do their friends

You will live in us for generations

Beautiful ones like you will never die

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