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Curves of Change: Poems by Perpetual Emenekwum-Eziefule

Curves of Change

Comments: ‘One does not observe a masquerade’s dance standing on a spot’ – (Traditional Igbo proverb)

At the elbow of the swamp where flowers rot
As salt corrodes fallen trunks of massive wonders
A storm of mosquitoes arose like
Dust, invisible yet harsh as red-hot chalk
Spreading like the rainbow with cries of the cicada
Arousing the gods who in their ignominious slumber
Created death traps for the poor.

Perhaps the gods should gather and be circumcised
As if the silent mirrors could speak
Deaf and decrepit they appear as they
Dicker and diddle on chimerical visions;
On a day and a dawn of offerings to the sky
May the mirrors of ten muses speak
Tomorrow of our ephemeral dreams;
As if the rhythms of rivers should be
Conveyors of a secret much sought after
And as if the memory of the whole nation
Should turn to frame as pictures of our legacies

The pains and panic of the past is too much
With us.  The scars of knife wounds and guns
Haunt our dreams of laughter and song;
Yet, upon this shore of promise and
Dance is the hope of new beginnings
And seasons and epochs of bygone kings
Who made long plans and kept promises short

There is speech in my bones; laughter in my voice
There are songs and to their rhythms I dance
Dancing for yesterday, today, tomorrow.
I speak of the blossoms we call by other names
Bisi the “baby” who is “lady” now
Whose color of majestic being shows from the
Dark radiance of her ebony skin while the
Trace of her virginity is but a salacious expression.
Bobo the boy, is now man –
His roundness like an Iroko tree
Standing resolutely in perfidious wonder
Indeed the young have grown
Growing briskly into a tender delicate crest.
For nothing stays the same-there is the
Song of season in my ageless bones

Collective encounters with epiphany,
Common crossroads on paths of destiny
Now unites the seekers of the dream
Of oneness from all the separate streams
On shores of Sharia and the Common law

And if truth be told, the needless blood
Of poets and publicans shed in a flood
Of hate consumes the flag of unity
Held high in breathless bids at sanity
After Okigbo, after nameless heroes

For us my heart bleeds
From the depth of my being
I shed pure blood sprouting
Into fountains born of anarchy and despair
For a forlorn breed of men.

And still we wait upon the crossroads
The forks in valleys of our creeds and codes
Afraid to raise the finger and to ask
Afraid to take the statesmen to task
Afraid of bruising sick and inflated egos

And if a man gently walks down
The road of life and still;
If a woman gingerly kneels to bear
And still
No new life or name emerges
To be seen;
Our ancestors consult.

I hear the clapping skies and auguries
The fire thunder rises like the
Flashing of lighting-
I hear the breaking storm of restive skies,
I hear the moans and groans of dwarfs
Striving up to stall the rites
Of crimson rain:
I see the darkened sky roam aloof

At the elbow of the river
The mermaid finds no fisherman
To clasp her ample breasts
Silent tears cascades her cheeks
As she raises her sonorous voice in protest
At the inn on the rock
The hermit finds no solace
For his solitude
He capitulates in deep paranoia

There is silence at the graveyard
A prelude to the furies of the gravediggers .
Yet there is a song
On the faces of these migrant symbols
Of our collective pasts,
Tribal dances on the brows
Of straining time –
Singing lips and weeping souls.

Yet there is a song
To pay for the throes we suffered
As our sacrifice
There is song
For every man-wail
Of pained mankind

I reach for the roots of joy
As hoof throngs of memories cease
I reach for the roots of laughter
Hidden in the secret places of the tribes

For none can burn God’s finger
And none can waste God’s ward
In this dawn and day of dreams
And new weather .



With a rosary round your neck
Your face is framed forever
In my memory – sprite;
But I can’t put in ink
The things I really think.

For Mona Lisa’s sake
I’ll try; poem – in – portrait
To expand your curves in strokes
To render your dimples in verse
Lit in laughter like the dawn
Yet dark and deep, lush as lawn.

Be the saint. I’ll confess
The nascent sinner’s crime-
Be the saviour, inscrutable
In my dusk of dreams.



Though you cry
When your heart breaks
Know that nothing heals
But the stretching of lips to smile
For in smiling you find healing
In healing, fulfillment
In fulfillment


Shape Of My Heart

Vast and deep is joy
In the legend of your eyes
I have seen the ocean
Surging from your being
Your embrace a lover’s
Kiss like an errant wind.

Let love be surer than the nail
Of passion’s carpenter
Nailing us each to each
Beyond body chemistries
Above physical remedies.

For let love endureth
Beyond electric moments
Of intense fleeting madness
Fading with every moan
Rising at each groan.

When lovers depart love shall not
Let its memories be preserved
For vast and deep is love
Learnt at your trembling lips
Sought in your soothing arms.



Held between finger tips
You are brought to heights
By sharers of passion
Of twisted delights
Incandescent as you thrill.

See you now
Aglow, flaming
Twining round hearts of men
Seeking you for comfort
Finding you in death
Their names written in ashes of time.


Rhapsody Of Signs

Uneven ribs upon a common trunk, we share
Uneven breathe few and far between.
I speak of conscious fears
Dangers and designs of our many faces
Let the drums beat as man and beast stare.

Together, Unwilling sharers of a common flaw.
We are led to death traps laid by
Men of no faith who cast fine tunes
Leading dancers enslaved to death pits.

Break into cacophonous songs of defeat
Lamentation a beehive in the place we call
Home. With one arm out stretched, beckoning
The other engages a fistful of coins
Trading our birthright for a piece of cake.

Perhaps for those spillers of blood
Attired in stiff cloths of death and shame
A favorite pastime slips through clenched fist
As decades of bloodbath takes a dive.

A common destiny amidst confusion, we share
For users of words woven snake-like slithering on
Unsuspecting tress now take turns to paddle history;
I speak as one flung cross wise on the altar
Sacrificed to appease soul-less statesmen

Now our kindred spirits dichotomized by years of
Precocious chaos renders us maimed
For men twisted in body and soul now
Banish us to an enclave of corruption
Where truth is but a salacious expression.

Even now when men in flowing gowns
Command the sit of convoluted towns
Little can be said in this dawn
When democracy is but the clown.


(c) Perpetual Emenekwum-Eziefule

Perpetual Emenekwum-Eziefule
Perpetual Emenekwum-Eziefule
Emenekwum, like many writers from Nigeria, grew up devouring the works of Soyinka, Emecheta, Achebe and Alkali. She received the Music Society of Nigeria (MUSON) Poetry 2000 second place prize with her poem "Curves of Change" featured here. A Master of Arts degree holder from the University of Ibadan, Emenekwum is a member of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), the Nigerian Union of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) and Publicity Secretary of the Women Writers of Nigeria (WRITA).


  1. one of the very best female poets from Nigeria, always always a delight to read you, thank you so much for your poetry.

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