Eye (for Niyi Osundare)

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God is reading the Washington Post
Bidding the angels to reduce the noise
Of their praise
Fine grains of men chant Ahaili* in the desert
And God drops his paper

God is dancing to men’s drums
As they clap from the sand dunes
Poets are the strings that hold Gods heart

For God floats in their skies
And lightning up their minds to words

But do not mistake God for shivering flowers
Or soaring seas
Do not say you have seen Him in rocks
God sits near the musing of poets
The all seeing eye
Without a telescope.

Performed at the 2015 Niyi Osundare Poetry Festival at the University of Ibadan, Ibadan

— — — — — — — — —

The Congress of Memory
(For Niyi Osundare)

Before me is a ladder of words
before my naked astral
as I wrestle with words
for a congress

that spread from here to elsewhere

My destiny is a tranquil journey
clear as the obstacles beckon
for prophets have gone before me
Post-colonial hymnals

Post-post colonial protests
folklore and imagery nuanced
by the signature of my tongue

I face myself
in a telephone conversation of grey hairs
but I see youth
in a playground of growing milk teeth

Before me
is a reincarnation of bards
Hunters and priests, eulogers and patricians
Enslaved by the chaos of chains or chalices

Gropping in the dark for the light of a voice.

Poetry is not childs play
But it is from a childs play
Those elders know where a childs path leads

I am a Hightower
earning the praise of every sail
giving thanks to the gifts of the ancestors
every gear of a new voyage

Is a subtle plagiarism
every verse is a modern proverb

There are more mouths to feed
More songs to yarn
More journeys to tale
Before I join the congress of Memory.

— — — — — — — —

A Biographical Note
For Iye Osundare

A child is born
A child whose screams
Becomes a national song

His mother
A noble priestess of marketplaces

A child is nursed
On the herbs of Osun
A river traversing the rocks, the barks of trees
And the earthly pots

His mother a traveler
Barefoot with her wares
Upon the hilly landscape

A child becomes a poet
From the cannon fodder of mothers philosophy
His mother becomes the Selah
Of the ages composition

A mother is a bulb
Encyclopedic streams of dreams
That builds the poets cantos
From his mothers ourve.

A poet is a stayer
In his pouch is nostalgia
Of his landscape
The victories of love
That culls a metaphor into songs

Mothers are syncretic beings
They worship their sons with Oriki
Sculpting their heads at every bath
leaving behind seven white birds hovering over their heads.

— — — — — — — — — —

A River’s Child

Water rebels against the hegemony
of the edge
She groans in an apartment with a lonely
Song

Water claims its land
from the conquest of man
for no truce was made
and the elements of hate festered

Water protested
a plosive after a long-suffering
surging from the banks
to the banks of earthly treasures

Water waged a battle
without a rainbow flag in sight
without the esigna of the star spangled banner

Katrina tramples on its friends
blinded by the surge to punish

Orleans woke Osun in its sleep

Katrina vexed
but forgot that a river child
Never dies from water

Katrina quotes Elliot
And Osun sways to a proverb of songs

Katrina flips the pages
Over-reaches like a militant

But a river’s child cannot choke
By a body of water
A river’s child cannot float
Lifeless from the river of elsewhere

Katrina immortalizes itself
With scrawls of dilapidation
Katrina collects the treasure of tears
Katrina forgets the element of memory.

Femi Morgan. Winner of the 234Next Fashion Copy Prize|Co-Recipient of the IB Poetry Prize for Contributions to Nigerian Literature|Longlisted for the BN Poetry Prize.

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