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Matters by the Mountain: Poems by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku

Matters by the Mountain…

where the mountain and tree meet in friendship
where they hold a long conversation
where their lips touch
where they hold hands

overpowered earth and bulrush abound

hemmed in by aged stalagmites sitting by ancient towns
consoled by the distant rumble in the vast mist

i hear distant lowing of a thousand cows
grazing under kwashiorkor-ridden plains of Pyankasa
stripping to bare the remnants of a once-green meadow.

fulani lads riding the bare tree mimicking Elijah
like generals giving their commands to the mist-platoon for rain

yet through the vast mist surrounding the convergence
between the tree and the mountain I again hear the cackle
of brown leaves rustling to their premature graves

rolling helplessly away on the holy mountain
egged on by relentlessness of many unkind winds

that pluck at the organs of the plains

sitting by as the trees dance the dance

of easiness provoked by calls fathomed
only to the silence of stalagmite holding court

content with the ceremonies of silence
interrupted only by the awkward waking squawks of birds

forming pairs to sail across the skies
to clouds reminiscent of uncertain dimensions and horizons.


The R Card

Let a pox fall on the doctrines of religions
A pox fall on them till eternity –

Let us pox them till kingdom come
Hurl them to the uttermost fringes of civilization

Why would you want to be a Jesus
If you cannot touch at the hem of her gown?

You cannot pull her to me, down
You cannot calm the aggression
Loitering in my groin

Why must Mohammed create these infinite
Culverts of inhibition you continue to endure?

So let us send them to Hades –
We would repatriate them to their womb –

Let them be stillborn in Siberia –
Let the cold freeze the blood in their tender veins

Let the disease of my intestines
Be the evidence of the acrimony from the womb

Let the blood flowing in the villages of our hearts
Sweep the brothers down under in a troubled gale

Under waters behind the waters of the hatred
To be hidden with the slime of a rotten okra –

For a separation of our emotions with different colours
For crimes of the similitude of their fates
For blood spilled for the difference of expressions


Here and there…

when I see the tuketuke buses overflow with planaye
I know home is near.

when I see the pineapples stand on each other like a pyramid
I know I’m near my village square

when the wind blows against the stubborn mango tree that refuses to bend
I know that Benin is getting near

when I see the brother of the sun strolling towards me
I know I will hear Brother dede, brother dede oyoyo…

when the clouds begin to gather together in the sky
I know my sons will run out in the rain and play football
my ladies will spy at their nakedness bathing in the rain as if not there

my home of roasted planaye eaten with groundnuts
washed with the waters of Urhonigbe, chilled without a fridge

my home for Holy Communion of dry fish and garri
filling the rooms and parlours of my bowels without sacristy

my home for the pigs grunting in the plantain plantation
which we will soon use to munch kpokpo-garri
which will wash down my undulating pipes with Sapele water
unminding of the knife slitting their throats before…

ah this my home of roasted yam dripping with palm oil…
this home by the garden fighting like the Tigris
or like the Euphrates…

by this home by the garden of this earth
little hearth with one by one of the trees in the garden of my grandfather…
past this lush side growth of the side-by-side of my life…

From this I go…

Come to this eerie spot floating in the air, hemmed by coarse hills
Enveloped by a haze holding the hills in limbo…

Struck blind by the sandstorms from the hills
I cannot see the kpokpo-garri of my clan,
Nor the planaye and Sapele water
Utterly extinct in this behind-the-fridge street

Heat like a furnace
A menace burning like a virus lounging around my collar
Wearing the shoe I wear, pinching me
Crawling up my thigh to there
And suffocating me with my tie

My orange pyramids scatter and cascade downhill, a valley
Governed by sorghums, millet and the spices of a land
Flowing with the seasons of extremes…

And from atop the hill, I espy a town covered in a mist
Squatting like a tired cow, lowing a low of fatigue
Its neck ready for the knife of sacrifice…


© Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku

Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku
Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku
Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku, author and poet, works at Bob MajiriOghene Communications as editor and publisher.


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