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If You Come Tonight: Poems by Rasaq Malik Gbolahan

Image: Mario Pinho via Flickr


And if you search for me tonight
And your eyes map that vacant place
Where scorpions search for preys

And if you come tonight
To preach to my deaf ears
For I have seen miles before birth
I have rendered my lines with mourning mothers
At unnamed tombs
I have earlier spewed words
Only cureless consolation I received
And if you come tonight
You won’t see me
Not of death
I have sailed my dreams on the sea of exile
Penned my pains on the pages of memory
Colored my tales with fecund epilogues
If you come tonight
I have dropped a message for you
Do read the board of night
My moon grips the heart of dusk
If you come tonight
To ask of my whereabouts
Do not doubt my message
I have coughed curses into the ocean
My birth of forgotten relic
I have tried breaking the rules of lengthy agonies
I have with me here, message of my journey
For exile remains the tales of someone like me
whose land remains a murderer at moonlight



Not my dreams…
To pledge before those fallen statues
To recite canticles at the grave-yards
Not my dreams
To welcome the arrival of midnight
But my destiny has been chained
My moon is daggered before night

And I say not my dream
To attend those urgent funerals
Not my dream
To foresee journey with plaintive destination
Not the dream I long for,
To see looters parading
At night, even at noon when sun shines on the edge of dawn
Not my dream to memorize stanzas of dirges
Only times keep chasing my hopes
Only looters won’t desist from gunning us down
Hopes are withering slowly
Dreams are drowning



If I miss the track back home
Do not bother to call the town-criers
There are marks on my face
Black, deep marks
There are scars on my bones
Draped on my skin

If I journey through thorns
Do not bother to shout my names
My voice has croaky tones
My stomach wombs wounds of bullets
My heart grieves for my dead history

And if I get lost tonight
Through the forest of the shrines
Do not write my names on the tree of memory
Nor publish my names on blood-printed cardboards
My death is not now
I am beyond pains of the harmattan season
…agonies of urgent demise
Since I have witnessed requiems before my birth
I am no longer new to the scenes
Of dying men gasping for breath
Tearful eyes foreshadowing faraway visions
Of mothers breastfeeding dying infants
I have seen and heard
Of buried relatives
Thirsting for water
And let me remind you
Dead men also ask for solace
Not in that tomb
Where worms evacuate
Dead flesh
Where eyes become vultures’ meals
And if you are familiar with that street
Where polithievesmen play games with our morrow
Then you will know
That I must reach the shrines
Even before the announcement of dawn
By the cock at the ritual garden
Where blood sucks blood…



The sages of my land
Are not custodians of dreams
Not even the sentinels in fierce places
The sages of my land
Are not fathers who warn children
Against house of fire
Not even herbalists who forecast
Happenings before they occur
They are only angry eyes
Who change the antennas
Of our boundless visions
Soldier ants that prey on
Our skin at night
Gun-shooters who use
Our souls to practice the
Game of target
The sages of my land
Are winds who rage
Our feeble roots…


(c) Rasaq Malik Gbolahan
Image: Mario Pinho

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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