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Message from Aso Rock to a Poet in Exile

Message from Aso Rock to a Poet in Exile


Your grandfather is a pain in the ass
Self-appointed flusher of imaginary morass

He held up a radio station
Screaming of a doomed nation

He raved he saw an open sore
And disturbed our giant snore

We asked him to fend death off our roads
He roamed Western capitals, croaking like a toad

Your father, ah, dat one was worse
Small pikin, shouldering a foolish cause

He abused his elders, calling them vultures
A so-called man of culture

He shelled Shell’s dollar-spinning pipes
His lips married to his own pipe

We invited him to come and eat
He clung to a pen, clung to shit

You, having ventured under Northern skies
Please, remain there in your cage of ice

Oja Oyingbo, beseeched by a million haggling voices
Never notices the absence of one tardy trader


Tears and the Muse…and Grey Rooms

An abundance of grey
wears the prisoner’s world to rags.
-Ogaga Ifowodo

When the Black Ravens regurgitated Osip
and discarded him in Voronezh
like poisoned cud from the belly of a goat

Adorned the head of his Black Earth
with a crown of cactus,
acupuncture for his weary soles

Planted needles
in the valley of Nadezhda’s bosom
where his head hatched plumules in repose

Denied him
a needle-eye’s view of the sea
and bound him in a grey room where time

Wearing a wooden mask
shoved him off a spectator’s seat
at Aurora’s theatre

Fear and the Muse
unbound the bounds
so witnessed Akhmatova

But when his swelled the
‘heaped hills of human heads’
congealed in Siberia

Fear and the Muse voyaged to Greece
found Panagoulis in another grey room
and midwifed verses etched in the poet’s blood

In Malawi they found undisappearable Mapanje
dining with chameleons and gods in his grey room
and taught him to skip without ropes

Then, Nigeria. The grey room was silent, empty
a dangling noose, an extinct pipe was all they found
fear, now useless, fizzled. Tears were all the Muse had left.



(For Harry Garuba)

Black hands cast the first stone
To welcome the Black immigrant’s skull
Black tongues spill the first venom
To wash the Black immigrant’s face

Pray who can fathom the depths to which
A man’s head will accompany his legs?

The wayfarer’s head accompanied his legs
To the land of Ulysses
They called him Barbaroi
The irritant with crude ways

The Nigerian’s head accompanies his legs
To the kraal of Mandela
They call him Makwerekwere
The irritant with a crude tongue

Black hands cast the first stone
Crushing the skull of past beneficence
Black hands sow thorns
On paths Mandela trod cap in hand
Returning always with sackloads of petrodollars

Black mouths deride the land
Where the pain of Mbeki’s exile
Received the balm of hospitality
Like Ovid at Tomi

Black hands cast the first stone
Black tongues spill the first venom
Spreading the red carpet
For collective amnesia


No Third Coming

Your first coming
Loosed Ita Oko on the land
Where famished crocodiles frolicked in
Anarchy, feeding blood to sand

Your second coming
Loosed the zombies on Odi
They obeyed orders like the folk of Nuremberg
Their act cleansed by your advisors, the oldies

There should be no third coming
Return to your broilers in Ota
Chain sanguinary instincts to Olumo
We shall rid this land of slaughter


Poems from Wayfarer and Other Poems (c) Pius Adesanmi

Pius Adesanmi
Pius Adesanmi
Pius Adesanmi, poet and critic, was born in 1972 and obtained a First Class Honours degree in French Studies from the University of Ilorin (1992). He subsequently obtained a Master’s degree and a PhD in the same discipline from the Universities of Ibadan and British Columbia respectively. He has since pursued a career as a scholar of Francophone and Anglophone African and Black Diasporic literatures and cultures. He is a two-time Fellow of the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) and has guest-lectured widely in Universities in Africa, Europe, and North America. He has contributed essays on literature and culture to several learned journals, literary reviews, newspapers, and edited books. He regularly serves as a manuscript reviewer for literary publications. His poetry collection, The Wayfarer and Other Poems won the Association of Nigerian Authors Poetry Prize in 2001. He is currently an Associate professor of Literature at Carleton University, Ottawa Canada, and Director, Project on New African Literatures (PONAL).


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