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Foreign Smile: Poetry by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku

Image: Fraser Mummery via Flickr (cropped)
Image: Fraser Mummery via Flickr (cropped)


Was it the easiness under my feet that drove me where
A reservation of my ended kith and kin converge
Was it the fire from the walls of an abode panting
Seething from the long siege of the fire from the skies
How could I sit beneath this gnarledness, this agedness of forms
That have stood by this thoroughfare even before my bedtime?

I have heard the cockcrow within the circumference of its sand-dunes
I have seen the motorbikes whiz past from Agwantivi to and fro
Under the shade of a tree that rendezvous with spectres and the moon

Was it for the freshness of the breeze tempered by the odour of a refuse
Are the mountains on this other side interested in this flight for respite
What would the trees on yonder plain say of my resolve to hide?

From the pupil in my mind, I see me a looming emptiness
Seeming voidness yet rich with countless treasures buried under the land
Like the rivers that flow fast and free underneath the barrenness of the mass
Like the people under the ground urging the cashew to be succulent
Loading it with their census of decadence and loss
In three plains of matchboxes, a rock and a cluster of cashew trees

Was this the treason for a convergence with my ended kith and kin?
Was it for this we should not cross the line drawn by the road between
This side ours and that side theirs, no not even for the sour breeze
Served among the fowls trying to raise their chicks, fending for them?
Was it for this that the isolation of firmaments is brought here under a tree
Standing by the roadside in quiet disdain for our impatient to and fro.


Foreign Smile…

If he flung his arm side by side like a crazy caricature
Drenched in the first rains of water covered with mud
Clad in only an under pant that held on to his skin

If he was the lad leading his sheep and cows down the road
Machete hung by his loins dangling here and there
And singing a song of hip-hop hurrah to the wind

If he was the lad called upon to recite his bible verse
Standing in front of the congregation unshaken by the stares
Listening to the rising applause of a worshipping adulthood

If he was…

But he was the caricature neither the Fulani singing Fulfulde
Nor was he the holy child soaking up our applause or dancing in the rain
Milk skin freckled face with hair like strands drooping from the Barbie

His was…
A smile that melted my ice
And added to my days
A smile my companion from day to day.


Pebble on a Roof…

What hand guides my fingers for picking up a pebble
Among these lying here like friends of silence
What hesitation grudges me against the weight of an ant
To throw this pebble high up in the sky like an augurer seeking answers
From the clear-headedness of a firmament so up there
For the fogginess in my head crawling as slow as snail to clear.

What is this eagerness to wait for the cascade of my pebble
Down the silverness of the corrugated roof of our stock
Why is the zeal of my glee to hear the growing rumble
Make a run for me from this hillside so close to the sky,
As if seeking an embrace like a child hungry for a hug,
What is this reluctance to meet my pebble even at this here metre

What spur makes me laugh seeing my pebble run down the roof
And land away from my feet without the thunder of a boulder
What hopes raises my hope that on another day,
In spite of the murk walking like a snail by my temple
Whispering disdains close to lobes of my ear
That echoes again I hear will lull any fray of my insides


© Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku
Image: Fraser Mummery

Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku
Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku
Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku, author and poet, works at Bob MajiriOghene Communications as editor and publisher.

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