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I Know of a Country: Poems by Rasaq Malik Gbolahan

African Child

(In memory of a nay-tion)

From a dark hut we emerge with a moribund lamp
Yes. We begin our journey with a dark poem by a lost poet
As the children dance with decayed breads, tattered
Clothes, scars of painful times on their faces.

We emerge with news of gloomy nights
Hours when the eagles pluck the eyes of the sky
Throwing stones in our midst

We emerge from the remains of a nameless town
Where skulls are gourds for thirsty men

From a place where broken visions are signs
Of a gleaming future;
From a place where cowries are names of gods

We dance to the lullabies of infants
Struggling to know where their mothers
Depart to
Leaving blood-clothed shawls

From a dark room we sing a dirge
For those who die with their dreams
In a nay-tion where bombs are seeds of unity.




I will tell the tale of love in
Manifold ways:

First encounter; first midnight’s call
With fears in my voice.

Memories of bygone scars—
As life is a book in the wind.


I will tell you the secrets of love
In the verses of my poem:

There are wonders in the way you smile;
In the way you clench the fears that hold
Me hostage in the cave of life.

There are traces on the wall we lean on
As the passing breeze whistles the fragrant name
Of your tribe.

There is a magic in the way you swing your hips;
In the way we entwine like tendrils.

There are untold stories of your beauty
That will find tongues in the seasons of our songs.



(For Odia Ofeimun)


They gauge the sounds of our voices
In every protest we wage, racing a baton
To strike them to death: murderers…

They master the groans of our cries
In the carnival of thieves: they buy smiles
And cup destinies with tins

They masquerade at the marketplace
Pointing fingers at us
As we dare the villas of their secrets

They murder our daughters
By propagating shameful bills,
Crass constitutions— preaching porn
And fornication

They also wish we die and varnish
Amidst the clatters of their curses

May they forget the name of victory
In the seasons of anomy



(In Memory of Grandpa)

Life like the pang
of circumcision

When it heals
We bother less about the pains.

So life fiddles with your soul
As you voyage beyond the sea
Of a dateless source;
As we search for where the full stop
Emerges in an unwritten note of life.

So we become lamenters knitting
Tongues with the tale of a beginning
That ends like the speech of a stutterer.



© Rasaq Malik Gbolahan

Rasaq Malik Gbolahan
Rasaq Malik Gbolahan
Rasaq Malik Gbolahan is a student of the University of Ibadan. He lives in Ibadan, where he writes and performs his poems. He believes we can change the world through words.

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