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Broken Lines – A Longer Poem by Isidore Emeka Uzoatu

Image: Pixabay.com
Image: Pixabay.com


Manual labourer writ large
Forever tilling page,
Sculpting for meaning
From space unending,
Until this dot of noon
Minute hand and hour leg
Caught in hide and seek
But for length and breadth.

My pen’s jeremiad of tears
Seeks of me a hemistich
To hemstitch maidenhead
Lost on balding page of pulp
At this act of concubinage
Sacrilegious in proportion
To sacerdotal alma mater
When priests and priestesses
Tangled in unholy unions
In testaments of old
Desecrating holy lands
In cursed purification:

“Can’t the words, at least
Crawl to the end of the line,
For my first ink’s sake?”



Dear pen and nemesis,
Cry a river you please;
First fluids are seldom fetched
By the meek and mellow of heart
Even with a mere hymen at stake.

With a ballpoint to fenestrate, ah!
Blood must well in eyes like tears
And rush to the head in droves
To sift the words apt enough
To crack the riddle of the ages
Mightier than many a sword
That has toppled kingdoms,
Melded and broken hearts
And sent many to gallows…

Deride me not, therefore
Whether in jest or joust
As to second-guess this
Undertaken by the idle
For its own sake only
With nary a benefit
For Homo sapiens.

Unbeknownst to you, sarcastic nib and all
With you in hand I’m catapulted to the tip
Of the tallest iroko in the land and environs
Farther above than atop our forefathers’ shoulders
On which wisest men stand in judgement over life
Though they see not beyond their crook of nose;

Commanding vista more gregarious than Microsoft’s,
Past horizons any human leg shall emblazon
By the next Harley’s Comet…

From here I sight where the very road of life
Forks up into many thousand million lanes
Each leading to a point of no return;

Too far ahead, I cannot but dictate and pontificate
Like the demigods that have laid our lives to waste.

Wao, up here, toe prints point ahead
Not unlike their owners had departed
Away from their heels, to See-No-More…

But return I shall, you in hand…


(To Christopher Okigbo 1932-67)

Sad song sung strung susurrates
For none other in this trade we tread
Unlike whom before rash retirement
Via the bifurcation through River Idoto
To the orangery of eternal repose
Vouch I not lines arcane and recherché
As though meant only for the initiated…

I write my poems for poets

Trouble is I received my anointing late
When the barbs to adorn words with
Were now few and far between
Like tails, fins and scales
On that damned sixth day
Of the Jewish creation myth
When God made us in His image
And fell into unflappable sleep
Like He had caused his creation
To make him a partner:

Which diminishes my craft not –
God’s bounty being seamless;

Nor his sainthood –
Holy St Christopher of the lines oblique!

Or don’t I descry men engaged in guiles
None as ennobling as this art we preach?

Me, Christopher and the rest of the pack
Who trade loaded words for posterity
While they vend wares for prosperity;

Mould sentences into stories
As they stack blocks in storeys;

But ask I must before my own very turn:

Must poets die in civil wars
Concocted by pachyderms
Who stay back lapping spoils
While the grass of the earth
Fight to conventional deaths?



Calm down yet, friend of the voiceless
Or you ooze your life away afore your monthlies…

Much as we must ply this skill with you in hand,
With you also are all death sentences authored:
According to the Zoroastrian godhead of Poetry
Who bestowed the wee lee of style in Ma’s milk
That impelled me unto the wilderness of words…

Who took me the precipice of verse
And gave me a spirited shove!

Though from these heights
Beings mighty and small
Come downsized to ants;
Let alone same sex liaisons,
I can still make out many
Rollicking their paramours
Increment and multiplication
As farther away from their notions
As I am from the earth they defile –

Or whoever has numbered tongue and toe
Among the organs reproductive?

Yet I espy dozen denizens
Seeking lucre for end’s sake
Sparing only blind spots
To the lives they ruin
     limbs they maim
     minds they bend
     hearts they hurt
     heads they break
     hopes they dash
     eyes they blind
     tongues they clip
In the mindless quest
Of their nefarious heist …

The space I’m to fill
Being as definite as my vision is infinite
I cannot but resort to lot casting…

Or do I not make out men
From this acrophiliac balcony
Killing their fellows –
Same quintessence of creation –
Neither for power or luck
Nor other such gainful pluck
But the kick they claim
Snuffing out breadth
Affords the undertaker
In disguised hamburger
Proffered by the devil.

Talk of him and temptation unfurls…

Hurled up in a smokescreen
The first batch comes in a plea
That these lines end before checkout
By my throwing self and litany of woes
To a most predictable of ends…

But voice long sought and found
Reigns the atmosphere unbidden:

“Get behind me, author of enticements,
To what do you amount but a ballpoint
In the hand of a self-published poet
Abandoned heretofore in the abyss
Of his broken lines…”
Poetry: © Isidore Emeka Uzoatu
Image: Pixabay.com

Isidore Emeka Uzoatu
Isidore Emeka Uzoatu
Isidore Emeka Uzoatu majored in the history of African Christianity at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Converted to creative writing by his elder brother, he abandoned his doctorate for stints on the staff of Crown Prince, Nigeria's pioneer male magazine, and Mister, its follow-up, in Lagos. He edited the latter before retiring to full time writing and a daytime job managing a trading company in Onitsha. Vision Impossible, his first novel, took twenty years to complete. He is married with children.

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