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James Onyebuchi Nnaji | When I am Dead Again

When I am Dead Again

I invite the wind when my fire speaks
To listen to the soliloquy that calls my name
But the wind is challenged on its birthday,
The beginning of my 9/11
Like the day of the angry masquerade
That whips his chief priest.
We hold conversations with fire
That belches but refused to speak to us
I take refuge in voices of loosened tongues
That give life to my wounds
Who can engage in a fight with fire
That talks to himself?
When I am dead again,
I come to fire that does not eat shadow
Of the cannon fodder that bears the pain
Of a woman inside her first labour room
I hear funeral dance for widows and orphans
Amid broken melody of the town crier’s gong,
Talking to the wind
I’m waiting at the bank of the River Niger
Where dry bones rose again and swam more than fish
And plastic bottles before the Niger turned crimson
In rays of half of a yellow sun
A breath of life extinguished the flame of fire
I plucked from the spirit-world
Before my father’s dry bones were exhumed
I fight to reclaim his grave with slit drum and dance
Python Dance that entered the marketplace
And everybody is now dancing with the python,
The drumbeat has grown beyond the land
And whets its appetite nothing on earth can fill
I write the Book of Man with sweat of the day of fire
That smothered the sun and painted the sky with rainbow,
The embers flee the wind in singsongs and red roses
On the smouldering remains, I ate taboo of the land that thirsts
I kiss broken moon falling off the marrow of the sky
Fire calls me on the top of broken mountain,
I come to you now that I am dead again
I did not become light; I became smoke and human dust
I became the shape of my dream;
Riding on its wingless body before the wind
I embraced the sun; my breasts were not full of light
My chest caught thunder, fire and thunder,
Tremulous twinborn to the forest,
Awakening voices of broken tongues
Darkness hid in street corners with Red Machete
Children of God of lost Earth read blood on canvass
Blood that wrote history in colours of an indigo sky
Engravings of forbidden memory,
Of smoke that chronicled to the sun
Voices that desecrated the land and can no longer wail
Like the shrill gong of the town crier
But snore with grief and silence
Like anthill beaten by heavy rainfall


Covenant of Motherwater

Ijogwu, eye of the moving water
That flows into every living hour
And sees through naaji fish
That carried our fortune like whirlwind
Children of the waves that reach the navel of the earth
What did water bring on our road that made it insatiable?
Children of water swim through the tides
That await us on the shoreline
We come from the tribe of water
Where we live without season
We gather in the shrine to offer sacrifice of nakedness
That returns us to land of beginning
On the surface of dark waters
Ijogwu calls her children in memory of the water
Where we come from
My water flows into the rain forest, heartbeat of our living
We have gathered in your presence, soddened,
To renew the covenant of our forefathers not to leave this land
Even when war comes with the great flood
Motherwater has emptied herself for her children
Lost in the valley of broken mountain
Broken from peak to base
We dip our body in the water that made us
In celebration of light
That keeps vigil till the first full moon
Children of moving waters are on the log of dry Iroko
Calling on the depth of all the waters of life
That flows through all the tributaries into Ijogwu,
Motherwater that carries her children on the current
That flows into every living hour

Poetry: James Onyebuchi Nnaji
Image: Redd F on Unsplash remixed

James Onyebuchi Nnaji
James Onyebuchi Nnaji
James Onyebuchi Nnaji served the Editor of The Muse Journal of English and Literary Studies of the University of Nigeria at Nsukka. His poems have appeared in The Bosphorus Review of Books, Down River Road Journal, The Hiram Poetry Review, The Kalahari Review, The White Wall Review, The Curlew Magazine, Best New African Poets Anthology and elsewhere. He was 3rd Runner up International category, Poetry Matters Project Literary Prize, Georgia, USA and recently shortlisted for Cathalbui Poetry Competition Prize, Ireland, UK. He lives in Enugu, Nigeria.


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