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Kuramo Waters: Poems by Ike Anya


(for Obiora Udechukwu)

You who with paint and palette
sings us a new song of hope, cooks up  a feast of dreams
For hunger-ravaged eyes.
Today I read your writing,
studied again your drawing
And leapt
In joyful hope.


O GA-ADI MMA: the hope that sustains

When our barns gape yamless
and our soup pots dry up
When hunger like a roaring lion devours our entrails
And sadness like an invading army overruns our hearts
O ga adi mma we mutter
And the hope that sustains
Fills our bellies to tautness
And our hearts with joy.

When the heavens withold their watery blessings
And our yam mounds stand parched
When the ghouls of famine hover over
And starvation a sentry, grins at our door
O ga adi mma we mumble
And the hope that sustains
waters our crops, disperses the denizens of death.

In these days when madness is abroad
and chaos and confusion roam unchecked
Through our land
In these times when our rulers dance
To the drums of destruction
Trampling afoot our dreams, our hopes
Tearing apart the threads that unite us
O ga adi mma! the roar bursts forth
No longer pleading but demanding
That tomorrow dawn brighter
Than this torrid day



Sprinkle my ashes upon the waters
That borne on the waves I may reach
Lands unknown and men unloved
specks of me bearing, a song of hope
‘Do not despair, this life can be lived’
In death fulfilling, a vow in life made
To touch the lives of many
and lighten the loads of some.
so scatter the ashes and scattering pray
That in dying I find
The peace I lost in life.



I have buried my ghosts
A heavy silence enfolds me
I have put aside the pain
The misery of recalled treachery
I have danced to the drums of atonement
And sipped of the wine of forgiveness
These I have done and yet
I fail to find that which I seek
These I have done and yet
A lasting peace eludes me.
I have buried my ghosts
But my haunting persists.



(In memory of her massacred sons, and for Aunt Nkadi)

Perched on the edge, on the banks of the Niger
Sleepy, serene, lapped by its waters
Your calmness belying the hurt within
The pin of your sons’ blood spilt in vain.
Not for you, wild wailing for your lost children
Not for you empty promises of future vengeance.
Stoic you sit on the great river’s banks
This life is a deep thing
The river flows on
Ponder no more, some day your lost sons
shall return to you
Mourning maiden mother by the waters.



It was a path such as this
A twining footpath cut
Through scorchened earth,
splitting the lush greenery
Of encircling life in two
That led my heart
Through rocky terrain
To you.



(for the lady(?) at Koko Bar)

Slender softly swaying sylph
Stopped by me to get a light
For cigarette dangling
From glistening scarlet lips
Voice vibrant, promising she purred
Throwing a challenge, daring
Me to make a plunge into her abyss
Declining, I lit escaping untouched
By her scorching fire.



To you who quickened
My faltering footsteps
Firming the staccato
Of hands on taut drumskin
Bringing welcome release
Rhythm and life
My gratitude



Large round tray delicately
Balanced on slender neck
Budding breasts thrust out
In defiance of lusty stares
Snake-like hips swaying
in rhythmic abandon
a subtle invitation sent
Softer, yet louder than your cry
‘Ooorange….sweeeeeeeeet oraaaaange!’



(for A and perhaps for B who without knowing it shared the experience)

I traverse the vast, the unending wasteland
And journeying remember the bliss of our embrace
Amidst strewn rocks and pebbles I seek
a drop of freshening moisture
Still parched I recoil
The question pounding
Within my shrunken fevered skull
Tasting once the nocturnal dew of heaven
Can I ever live on earth again?



Vast expanse of space
Extending to infinity
Where sea meets sky in eternal embrace.
Your endless calm broken only
By waves crashing in rhythmic sequence
In foamy effervescence against the whiteness
Of your pale sandbar
Ripples skim across your cool surface
In endless, timeless, ageless rhythm.
Calm breezes blow salt tinged and whisper
Of the delights of an unfettered existence
All-pervading, all-investing they enfold
Our hearts and minds
In lasting peace

Rhythms from within
Play me like the goje, pluck
At my heartstrings
For deep within reside
Melodies of vast versatility
Thump me like the ekwe
That I may produce
A deafening roar drowning the madness of these present times.
Like the shekere rattle me gently
Let the steady staccato of bead against gourd
Recount step by step the follies that brought us here
Like the wooden xylophone strike me
That my myriad bars may tell
Of a joy surpassing all present sorrow
Then like the kakaaki sound me
That I may yield
A wail, poignant and true
Testimony to hope and brighter dawns.


(c) Ike Anya

Ike Anya
Ike Anya
Ikechuku Anya is an MSc student of the Infectious and Tropical Diseases Department, London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. This medical doctor with a deep love of reading and the arts co-founded the Abuja Literary Society.

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