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Braiding Water: Poetry by Richard Anyah

Image: Ian D. Keating via Flickr
Image: Ian D. Keating via Flickr

Braiding Water

…you say it is love, it is poison.
nasir jones

the monkey waded lights
orange, red and green

shylock of the creeks revving outboard
lonely voyager upon life’s raft

alone he comes, silently with supplication
to the sprite of junctions

whose withheld name is the mantra
spoken in turn by everyman at passion height

priscilla. receiving wares, toys or powder
syringes and shisha

things to make the ride bumpier
for god never abstains from holocaust

she asks his name and again
only to forget in the rigours of ploughing

these lands, fertile from decay
waterlogged from a perpetual state

of dreams without exit
no tragedy, all deaths pre-planned

so souls could become forced
into niger arms

which were concourse in the initial
for iniquitous play.


a weird pair they made
and water carried questions

about a monkey and sprite
who made goblins

after they had lain
and bottled his lust in the setting sun

using it to fuel spinning axes
bringing rain

gradually becoming poison
even to a sprite

who forgot prior natures
after a cool drink

black like afrique noir
but more crimson

from little explosions
like land mines

a bit more desirous
destructively gripping

like a mainliners’ curse
serpentine tracks on the upper arm

jabbing bites at denouement
reminding of the beginning


let us fly she says
but monkeys own no wings

only prehensile tails lubricated,
unable to grasp

love’s antennae glides
through oil stilled distributaries

so what does a sprite do?
a monkey is lifted home

and fashioned with a dagger,
admonitions to cut prior unions

no monkey-wives and cubs
just leeching holes for priscilla

to fasten chains leading back
to her junctures

where monkey-armies’ stance
is a votive to the temple

deep below navels, where
life is spun upon a jemmy

creating  new fabrics
what is, may not have been

if certain steps were recanted
from the dark waters of beginning


when only a sprite-girl
mother skinned leviathans

fished from arroyos.
in weird tongues they spoke

of fear and father’s outboard
of hooks and gnarled mangrove

intoxicating sap from raffia palm
tapped by death

after news of his fall
and monkey men danced

around funeral mounds
watching mother drink cleansing water

frothing through her ears
carrying her lover’s coffin

love’s hour was past midnight
gall marked passover posts

glistening from thumb tacks
lord’s crucifixion

by itinerant preacher
of red robes

who came with promise
to make prophetess


Of girl child upon bed
In holy of holies

sacraments of flesh
no wafers at tables

phallic priests in rotation
for the word

and dancing manacles
for rigid hosts

and the coming end
personified as night

when soul left sprite
swaying in wind

to monkey priests saying
in memory of me

instants of bliss
in perpetuity

and the paradise
of junctions

where a sprite
awaits the end.


Poem: Richard Anyah
Image: Ian D. Keating via Flickr

Richard Anyah
Richard Anyah
Richard Anyah lives and writes in Ibadan, Nigeria. Some of his poems have been featured in anthologies and magazines. His dog is called courage and he has imaginary Japanese friends who write poems.

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