The Lord’s Day (Hour 24)

Sunday morning.
Again, you didn’t make it to church.
It’s the third week in a row
You’ve missed Sunday service.
You said it was too cold to go to church.
You did go out, though, to visit with your girlfriend,
Ignoring your mother’s words:
It’s the Lord’s Day, son. Go to church, or go nowhere.
The showers drenched you, and Hannah wasn’t home.
You stood waiting outside the door, worsening the cold.
Now the meds say it’s bronchitis,
Your mom says it’s God’s wrath
Because you’ve lost regard for Sunday.

Agent of Change (Hour 23)

You flew with the wind
of change blowing across
the continent screaming
from the rooftops
rousing sleepy neighbourhoods
to collective consciousness
telling the world we have a story
telling the world our story
telling how we lived before
things fell apart
not bullshit concocted in some
European capital
you unnerved not a few
who would rather have us
nod to their imperialist
yarns, but you steadied your voice,
screamed even louder until your
voice drowned their voice
until the world listened
now we hold our heads high
locking horns in foreign capitals

Tenderness (Hour 22)

Wool-soft palms patting my back
imparting warmth upon my bare back

Cream-smooth voice whispering sweet
nothings into my confused ears

A mother’s voice calming
a troubled child

Master of the house
feeding a starving pet

You and I alone in bed
on a rainy day.

Enemies of the People (Hour 21)

Enemies of the people
unleash violence
stoke fires of hate
fan embers of division
in the hearts of people
the state mopes,
like it’s complicit,
like it’s relinquished
its monopoly on violence
umbrella shields from rain
and broom sweeps clean
but neither would be any
use in this impending

The Watchtower (Hour 20)

Here, in this
Observation Mountain
towering above the earth,
that’s where, we
are told,
The Big Eye
over creation sits
documenting good
deeds and ill –
or delegating
to Its zillion
auxiliaries, including
the elements
the four winds,
waiting patiently
for Reckoning
when the book
of records shall
stand in judgment

City by the Lagoon (Hour 19)

A mere drizzle last night
and this morning multiples
of tiny pools have formed

outside my door. Fetid, because
floodwater mingles with sewage
oozing from the leaky septic tank.

Garbage heaps clog drainage
channels and floodwaters reverse
into unfortunate streets

that haven’t seen electric light
in donkey months so power-generating
sets compete for the noisiest prize.

I wade through putrid pools
and on my way out get
trapped in a traffic jam.

Broken exhausts spew fumes
straight into my lungs,
give me watery eyes.

Hawkers stick their wares in my face
and this cure-all medicine dealer’s
spittle settles on my right cheek.

From the inner streets
worshippers’ loudspeakers
give me tinnitus.

Now a cantankerous commuter
duels with a danfo driver
over fifty naira change.

Across the road keke
drivers war with agberos
over illegal ticketing fees.

Blood smears tar as okada fleeing
uniformed extortionists claims
an unlucky pedestrian’s left limb.

Wallahi, this city is a circus
show it’d be fun to watch
if it wasn’t killing.

Beholding Joy (Hour 18)

Years of endless wait finally end
years when, like a leech, you clung

to the tail of hope
seeing, as medical reports go,
you stood no chance

You clung to your pillow
shedding nightly tears

calling on the powers above
to dry your tear-filled eyes

cursing the day fate pulled
a trigger on you; you were
bruised but not crushed

Now all you see is a mini you
giggling in your joyful hands

Kraken (Hour 17)

Once upon a nightly sail
We came upon a mighty whale
Turned out to be kraken
Of the legendary wrath
Whose huge tentacles
Roused deadly waves.
We sang a song
To the squid-like beast
It waved at us
with its many limbs
And swam away calming
the raging storm.

The World Grinds On (Hour 16)

The world would grind on
when you lose your breath;
when, like a log, what’s left
of you is heaved into the earth,
shovelfuls of dirt hitting
your resting box hewn from
any tree of the carpenter’s fancy –
udara, melina, iroko, oak, mahogany –
who really cares?

Mourners would wipe dry eyes
And get on a feasting match –
God bless the dead
whose death
has brought us this bread.

Family would war to death
if you were of mega means;
some tear to shreds
even for meagre means.

A memorial a year if they cohere,
and, maybe, a reluctant visit to your
resting place, with paparazzi in tow,
just for the show.

Then, in time, everyone forgets
even your fondest jokes.
Now you’re but a distant
thought, a faint memory,
for even those who remember
near their inevitable end.

It’s not for want of love
or empathy; life burdens each
with not just a cross that even
the living forget the living
in this forsaken hellhole.

Gorgeous Town in a Rock (Hour 15)

Gorgeous town
built into a rock

Your images I see
make me lusty.

This desire is
more than sex

I long to melt into
your open arms

To be locked in
your warm embrace

Just as you’re welded
into the rock

My tourist spirit craves
for an intercourse

Setenil de las Bodegas
for you I’ll speak Spanish.

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