When a Poet Dies: Poems by Nana Arhin Tsiwah

gravestoneWHEN A POET DIES
(In memory of all dead poets)

I know this tongue might sound too plain
And thinking the pavement wouldn’t be painted
It flows in the mind and releases at shore
These thoughts, these ratiocinations
Like preambles that wrote the half night
They might be rhetoric, a salad for salivation
But, sometimes you may have died
Thousand times before your consciousness could coup.

This stage is a calling, calling for scaling
A calling not for the saint or the hero
This stage speaks with passion, fashioning the soul’s words
Like harmattan and pharmaceutical
They are simply indented aphorisms
Leaving their scares at the door of the mind
But like a tale, only few desire to be sanctimonious.

How many times haven’t you, they and we sow these seeds
That not even the fire-fly of the night
Desires not to pour it benediction upon it for germination?
How many times haven’t they deserted
The carings and comforts of their pillows
Stay awoken by mosquito bites of heralding crickets
To sing us songs of consolidation and steadfastness
That at the last whine of the cock
Nothing was heard except their last farewell prayers?

In this calling of many and few; of few to many
Only the world knows how many were properly autographed
So behind the scenes of lava bombs and cinders,
Their sweat only paid due respect
We of whom they died whilst altering pages
And summoning all lost hopes for this future and world
Only paid their trails with cleansing pigment.

Once a poet lived by this sheet
He had predicted his own fate in a calabash
Prayed his last stanza in a foreigner’s land
His home, wife, family, royalty and friends foregone
To bring peace and hope to the many who ate missiles by day
As predestined by his own golden ink,
The morning came, night rained tears
And his last was left in the open houseflies
He had no mourners, no sympathisers
Except the moon and the seven-million stars
That visited him before the maggots could draw out swords.

Three hundred years from now, from today
His tales have found its sweetest tune
In the hut of an Open University
Where with time count; men, women and children
Came to sip wisdom and to philosophise
From his now glorious skull
So I ask: was this not he who was left to tell his story in vacuum?

For this time again, this infamous hour
Those who shall die this lonesome path
Shall be immortalised by this same breathing lines
Where lives live by cyberspace click
Like a carpenter’s hand stricken hammer
But when a poet dies,
His beginning is gone, into ashes
His end a tale that acknowledges not his sweat
Smeared on the pages that hang on to life.



I am from that land of burrowed mythologies
a statement of wrapped raped soil
feet as dirty as a camel’s ankle
shirt torn by the lenses of the butcher
the abbatoire becomes the butchered when it lacks meat
tell the Queen; your Queen of English
that a stranger from the land of strangers has come to see her
I have come in thorns and tears of piercing arrows
I have come as the lips of the ancestors
the sea never drums unless it has been disturbed by pebbles
I do not seek for water or wine
neither do I come like a beggar seeking for crumbs
after all, if nothing reminded the stomach of yesterday then the pains did
I am a young man of two baked eyes
one who has lived under the influences of mobs
whiles in my homeland, the mob-sters did teach me to rifle
like a basin; to be human does come on an end
its comes when a man begs even in cheat

She held her third leg and walked to my misery
the marrows saluting the ordeal of the flesh
Queen, “I have walked through eating eyes”, I said nodding
I have come without your needing me as a workman
that handmade of your ancestors wishes
maybe your ears haven’t heard
that they have become aborted anomalies of infernos and snowballs
when coming, I swam through the sea and danced on the desert
with no amulet, no industrial support and no airship alliance
I made it through the gate of no return
but sad as they were; I witnessed the blood of my ancestors
holding hands and cursing this your land
for he that speaks proverbs in the palace at midnight
must not live to see the sale of the harvest.

I have heard how sweet your accent is
how flattery they have echoed beyond the Atlantic
causing the brave hunters to sleep impromptu— sadistic!
even here, (as I stand elbowing) I am seeing the untruth in a winsome glory
its been over fifty years since Freedom (the self-acclaimed) came to greet
the lands which you built heavens from
our sons whom you milked sweat from
have embraced the scrolls you left behind
they see their faces in the mirror,
take modernised cannons and run after themselves
while antelopes, deers and grass-cutters outnumber them
a letter from the West said, you have paid us well
furnished our dilapidated mud huts with gold
and tarred the surfaces of our roads with terracotta
but here, I see the evil spirit of doubt
dancing calf-wards between your teeth
as a speechless he-goat; I haven’t lost the delight of my stubbornness
I asked for your ears because,
the “colony” and “the crown”: I inquired from the departed
have done us drunken decades of malevolence
than we ought to have inherited…



When at last
We have reached
The feet of the
Great Ta’kora…

Then shall our feet
Be washed before
The readings of Bones
And the vowels on Nserba
Shall be made known…

Under this
The olden beard
Of the Mighty Gye Nyame
Shall we pour our hearts’
And souls’ impregnable thoughts
Like the heralds of
The morning cock
Into woven tales as ‘Awensem’

Except that we do not
Have heads of dwarves
Or eyes of Ananse
That we shall dry our lips
And drench our tongues
As if we can travel this ugly pathway
Without Nana Nyame…

Poems © Nana Arhin Tsiwah
Image: Bigstock.com

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