Poetry

A Short Black Poem: Poetry by Cletus Nelson Nwadike

Death

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A Short Black Poem

1

When I die
I want to be buried
in two graves

In my friends´ hearts
and in a short black
poem

2

God´s wise
He built a house in the sky
for all poets

He painted it black
and warned the angels
not to go near it

3

First time
I kissed a girl
was at night

She became so confused
She left her bra
under a mango tree
and ran home

4

I dreamed
I came home
but my mother
didn´t recognize me

I tried to explain to her
but she just went away
and didn´t leave any food for me

I went and sat by myself
where everyone in the village
could look at me
but no one understood me anymore

I began to cry
and everyone in the village came
and spoke in a language
I no longer understood

5

When I slept
God
stole a peek at
the poems in my heart

When I woke
He asked me to write
in the water, in the fire
and in the wind as well

He knew that
a poet
creates himself

I am the white-clad dove
who carries the wisdom
the earth lacks

6

Often the voice of conscience whispers
Often we silence it
Always we have to pay

7

The freedom that
the world gave me
was bigger than the one
I gave myself

8

The dead have been gone too long
to be able to come back

I heard them
whisper beside the sea

dressed in black veils
they stand at the window at night

they want to hear my breathing

9

When the dead play football
they ask everyone to participate
sometimes only the old
want to play

When the dead play football
they ask everyone to participate
sometimes only the sick
want to play

When the dead play football
they ask everyone to participate
sometimes only the children
want to play

When the dead play football
they ask everyone to participate
sometimes only the brave
want to play

We who are afraid
to play football
with the dead
must learn to play football
with our opponents

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– (c) Cletus Nelson Nwadike

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4 Comments

  • Dear Cletus,
    I am a Canadian writer working on a novel. I came upon your 6 :
    “Often the voice of conscience whispers
    Often we silence it
    Always we have to pay ”
    and wonder if I can use it at the front of my book, because it expresses well one of the themes of my novel which concerns a young woman protecting her psychopathic brother. and experiencing great guilt. I am a professional writer, and although I have no guarantee that the book will be published, I assure you that it won’t be terrible. I admire your writing very much and will look for it here in Canada. I gather you prefer to be known as a Swedish writer? Please advise.
    I did try to reach you at another e-mail address some time ago, but couldn’t connect. I am at the final draft stage (of many, many).
    Thank you so much.
    Sincerely,
    Joan Shouldice

  • I think this ironically ‘short black poem’ is refreshingly fascinating! That kind of poetry that only a sensational poet could have discovered. Very original. Senator Ihenyen is the author of Colourless Rainbow:Poetry of My Childhood (forthcoming, Colourless Rainbow).

  • Beautiful poem. I came across the phrase “Often the voice of conscience whispers, Often we silence it, Always we have to pay” in the book The Covenant with Black America, in the forward of an essay by James Bell. It was attributed as “anonymous.” My online author search led me to your poem. Was this phrase taken from your poem?

    Mary K.