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Angst-Flaring: Poems by Chiedu Ezeanah


(Or, NLNG’s Dinner With The Devil-dedicated to the nine poets longlisted for the 2009 Poetry Contest-Lindsay Barret, Hyginus Ekwuazi, Nengi Josef Ilagha, Idris Musa Okpanaci, Ahmed Maiwada, Odoh Diego Okonyedo, G’ebinyo Ogbowei, etc…)

The cartel keeps its date with the hydrocarbon.
Pitching their brand’s choir
in the singing depths of vaults
the cartel rigs up monster-hits.
Sky-high flares turn the earth
gaseous on the other side of birth:
is acid-rain the cartel’s loftiest paean
to its pre-tax ogre rhyming with pain?
The creeks are the stripped souvenir
from its Fortune 500 bottomline…

Make queens and kings of poets, NLNG says,
and the poets will string fugues of a merry planet.
Swanky ties shape and veil corporate intents.
No lie, the cartel needed to hush up
the carbon-pox of its past and present.
Head-to-head in league with the cartel, twice
the tyrant also hired NLNG to fix his past.
The cartel’s insensitivity patent is no news.
The cartel coughs up a fifty-thousand dollar sop:
but what lucre will ever suffice to annul the Muse?

Harmony needs no vault but a heart
in personal quests and public inquests
to awaken with the poet’s chord nests
of charred statistics of creeks and forests

Poets are supped to greenwash the blights.
Eagle-eyed scribes are hired to cap a laureate.
Who will dare lampoon, now, the cartel’s soot of deficits?
In the torsion of interests-corporate and expedient,
gas and dollars have image-making & wrecking uses.
The hoary-skulled genius of the poetry judges
picked, hyped up and thumped nine new voices
for being “too bleak…too personal with angst”.
The new tunes are noise to the good old fossils?
The psyche’s slugfest with itself inspires song:
either W.B.Yeats, or, the judges must be wrong.

“The eaters of the living have eaten the prize”,
one of the long-listed “angst-riddled” poets,
Okpanachi tropes on the cartel’s quick jaws.
Poetry in Nigeria brims with angst, the accent of its time:
angst, poisonous like oil spillages and gas flares;
angst, seismic and cathartic like gut-tremors;
angst, like the ash-cloud of the jaundiced & the myopic;
angst of the heretic, angst of the pharisaic;
angst of the visionary, angst of the visceral…
The howl of the bleak poets is the angst of a bleak time.

Harmony needs no vault but a heart
in personal quests and public inquests
to awaken with the poet’s chord nests
of charred statistics of creeks and forests

The eardrums of guests were engulfed that midnight.
The tyrant executes a poet, bombs an editor,
botches a rare free poll and then poisons the winner:
same despot mentors poets and critics during dinner
on Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Poetics?
The despot and NLNG heart-to-heart in a feast
mint hitlists and blacklists out of lifelines.
Neck-to-neck in guilt are they yoked till infinity?
Her falsetto chant parodying our nation’s anthem,
the Chief Host’s spouse trilled twice.When
shall the Host’s sister do the gig , just once?

And the still-born poems task their creators:
what’s our take out of the fossils of love apart
ambushed like trophies from the throats of rivers?
Is there no alternate pastime to hushing rhymes up?
Why are despots the only speakers fit to keynote
and showboat at the cartel’s luxury poetry fete?
The old excludes.The new is gagged.
Everywhere the rite of new song is stalled.
Let there be discontentment with discontent.
Angst will always be, but may it not blind.



Swooped by a blackout
another day outages
into the stone-age
seeking a spark.

The noxious relief of plants
in the hub of darkness
tinders homes and breaths.

The sky’s solar eye dimmed
by infernal flares yields
the monochrome of night.

Knees still bleed, suppliant,
unsung in the extinguished light.

Our only Republic beams darkness-
where does the light live, and, bless?



Death, the bloodloot of a rampaging army,
breaks upon secret thoughts in starving tows.
Death empties the thought and the town.
Death in the anxious wait.
Death in the poisonous shade.
Death in the trenches in the bedroom.
Death in the gallows in the courtroom.

Alfred Rewane, Musa Yar-Adua, Bola Ige,
Bagauda Kaltho, Victor Nwakwo,
Harry Marshall, Amasoari Dokubo, Agbeyegbe…

Fates out of the reach of hate
names out of the reach of dates
besiege us in time of grace
to sing their glory in unjust Time…



(For Al Gore & Ike Okonta)

Some say the planet will cease
in a nuclear winter;

Some say in the sewering skies
in a carbon summer;

Some say in the hungering universe
in a twilight hour.

None will suffice!
None will suffice!

We regreen our path
we reap a rich earth.

As we bond together
out of toxin’s shadow

the ashen fog clears
for the sunlight and us…



Chiedu Ezeanah
Chiedu Ezeanah
Chiedu Ezeanah has a B.A. (Hons.) and an M.A., both in English, from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Journalist, newspaper editor, poet published countless times in anthologies and newspapers, he won the Music Society of Nigeria Festival of Poetry Competition in 1999 and 2001. He is the author of THE TWILIGHT TRILOGY. Poet and professor, Niyi Osundare, considers Ezeanah "the bardic voice of his generation and one of the finest."

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