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If You Will: Poems by Unoma Nguemo Azuah

Boulders of Ice

I lean on clasping boulders of Ice
To set my face to the paws of the wind
they howl like polar bears

I left the battle of bones
On grounds where they incline like stumps of broken wood
To claw at the invading chill.

My eyes shall bear the balls of light
Tearing through the thickets of freezing forests
To claim salvation in a land forsaken by the sun

From bones to cubes, cubes of ice, ice cubes…

In a land deserted by the sun, I dwell on graveyards
Feeding on the pulse of the dead

Now, it’s the sun and the ice
Melting into a pool where I cease to exist.


If You Will

If you etch my face
On the eye of the sun
I will shine beyond the sun
And wed deserts to the seas

If you inscribe my name
On the arms of the wind

I will reach the flanks
Of the earth
And make you the new gospel

If you weave all trees
Like the braids of an African woman
Where all leaves will be in
Patterns of waves
Giving rhythm to rocks
I will steal the chorus of birds
And place your song on the lips of dawn

If you pledge your love
To the groves of my palm
I will make my hand a shield
Clasping the seed of your trust

If you let me possess you bloom
Like the flowers of my garden
I will transform the earth
With the fragrance of your petals.


Almost Done

The day is almost done
And I am still a burden to a stranger
Begging for speed and span
In a race against time and destiny

The day is almost done
I learn new steps on needle points-
Blood becomes paint
In the canvas of skulls and broken bones

The day is almost done
My fatherland is still a beast on rampage
Gobbling gold and diamonds

And his sons lean on long guns
for meals and money

But then blood becomes the colour of justice
in the portrait of pain and poverty.


A Fall Into A Well

New events chew history
like locusts on leaves
The echo of a well calls me

I crash
Reaching for the mirror
in the surface of reflections.
The splash shatters the pictures
of dreams and hallucinations

I drown in my shadow
standing in ovation
for corpses called up from graves
I may be in the next cast
waiting to be applauded.



Let me be the egg bearing the
stench of stillbirth
Let me be the blood bleeding before
the oracle

I may be the white yam ringed with cowries
I may be the lone voice piercing the
path of fear

Let me be the calabash
bearing totems at the cross-road
of death.

*The river goddess of Asaba people in Delta State.



It’s Sunday morning
solitary fields stretch
from here to tips of skies
birds chorus on whistling pines

It’s Sunday morning
masses amass for mass
sounds of distant chaos
rip the altar cloth
But Father Monu battles
with communion and crosses

It’s Sunday morning
Myraid echoes;
Bread, blood
Water, wine
Purgatory, purgation
Contrition, confession
Chalice, chaplet
Sacrament, sacriledge
Sin, saint
Salvation, devotion
come crashing through stained glasses

It’s Sunday morning, summoning souls
To the graveyard of resurrection.


(c) Unoma Nguemo Azuah

Unoma Nguemo Azuah
Unoma Nguemo Azuah
Unoma Azuah is a poet, novelist and a college professor. She shares her time between the US and Nigeria. Her debut novel, Sky-high Flames won the Urban Spectrum award and her second novel, Edible Bones won the Aidoo-Snyder book award. On Broken Wings: an anthology of best contemporary Nigerian poetry, which she edited, has just been published.


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