Ikemefuna: Poems by J.K. Anowe





War Gongs

that my strength may not be lost
dust shaken off your feet
were the remains of peace

when war gongs beckoned
the calm heave of beating chests
the sterility of virgin breasts
tied with tendrils of fear

did a people
not welcome sacrilege
like prodigal hands

spilling blood upon
land longing for water

the stench of hypocrisy
nauseates my patriotism

your blood cries louder than abel’s
yearning for the eyes of God’s ears
yearning for the raining season
of fruitful tears
sweetened with negligence

your blood is incarnate
of my name Ikemefuna
ede(1) leaves over our crownless
heads like shields blocking
arrows of rain

and of gods that separate
our ruins from their gains
as mother would do
shells from snails

when again would cocks
remember morn and chant
their fearless psalms…

when again would
tongue taste voice…

this distance has
taken more than
it has given

and the moan
of the gong
draws nearer

as breath melts into
ashes in my lungs…





can you smell
the rotten wails
of our nocturnal souls
exhumed distraughtly
from indignant holes

from the miserly leniency
of your unforgiving
fathers and mine

we make sail
paddling into dreams
where divided we stand
rocking in typhoons
of yesterday’s fart

we are broken
an ensemble
of discordant tunes

this land
where sheep is sheep
and shepherds
in wolf clothing clad

do you think i never
loved her enough

this house
with no roof
over our heads

this fireplace
cold with lore
and dea(r)th

your blood like oil palm
upon one finger soils another
for ours is a fight of blame
bearing touches that unite folly
a flame infinite as the universe…

intercede for us
naked gods
cannot clothe us

intercede for us
will our stars still twinkle
a day after forever





are we not done yet
the unleavened tears of shrill cries
flooding my country-shores
have filled our eardrums
as words do empty slates

what have we not done
lions now roam our goat-stead
hungry roars feeding on baaing fears

we are wretched
beyond honor sire
like soup deprived of salt

brothers buy birthrights
commonly sold as garri(2)
in the misjudgments
of markets that bloom
like sunflowers at dawn

and the sun shines
on her own folly

hazy portraits hang
like corpses
on battered walls
broken exhibits
of an exalted
coat of arms

falling walls
like the goliath
yet no david
before him stands…

rats of our household
have told tedious tales
of fish sizzling at the fireplace

pray for us
kneel for us

that the devil
may not be sent
to do God’s work

Poems © JK Anowe

1. Cocoyam
2. Refined cassava flour

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