Poetry

Music on the Radio: Poems by Chika Unigwe

Music on the Radio

The music playing on the radio
That was ours wasn’t it?
A long drooling that could lift you at the best of times
Sedate
Sedate
Seduce

Until it drowned you
In its sweetness
Forced your walk-lust legs
You claim
To wander far far away
From home
Into her arms

Killing us

======

My Uncle’s Red Vest

There is a red vest
Hung out on my laundry line
Billowing in the wind

That is my uncle
Or all that is left of him
You never knew him. You should have

He danced like the wind
Blowing us all away
With his intensity

For a life
He loved to live
But which failed him

He was called away
Way too soon
And I am left

With this red vest

======

Simon Nkeazi

I shall rescue your name
From these ashes I throw
Where you willed
Across a sea vast
Vast like the palm of your hand
It was the biggest palm I ever saw
With branches trailing off to your finger-tips
You used to tease me
That those were the palms
On which the world stood
And I believed you then
Just like I believed you were invincible
You
Whom the gods loved
Who had death
Secured in his pouch

I shall call out your name
Again and again and again
And you shall live once more.

======

ED.

Where are you?
Where are you?

When you slashed those wrists
Did the blood gush out?
Was it what you had hoped for
Or was it more? Or less?

What was whirling through your mind?

Did you hope someone would hear your silent screams
A hollering loud enough to numb you
Yet issued from a throat
Gone hoarse from tears

Did you hope
Our eyes gone blind
Would start to see again
And save you from yourself

What was it?

The burden so large
That we missed
Let it run you to the ground
Unable to stand up again. Ever.

======

A Road Scene:

Suspicious eyes catch a glance of me
Quick
Black-all-leather bag is strangled underneath her arm
Tight, tighter still
For I am the colour of sin
of cruel hands stabbing
of hungry eyes lusting
of wayward feet looting

And
On her
I smell ignorance
So fetid it chokes me with its stench

======

After The Rain

I want to scoop the sand
Brown and earthy
Let it sift through
These raw fingers
Rub it coarse against my breasts
My mating partner
Raise it in thumb-fulls to my eager nostrils
Lose myself in its exhilarating earthly scent

======

Remembrances

My grandfather was a nature-man
He loved to dig
Burrow into the ground
It made him feel alive
He always told me
Even now
I still hear him
His dirt-stained hoe
Going furiously at a hardened earth
Forcing it to yield
And I am now
Digging into my brain
Begging it to yield
Me memories of one I loved

======

Learning to Talk (April 13, 2000)

“Peek-a-boo!”
His eyes light up
Twinkling little stars
When he realizes that we do understand him
“Peek-a-boo!”
He peeps from out chubby hands
Hiding his face
A cherub in a striped pajama shirt
“Peek-a-boo!”
He rolls the words round and round his tongue
Relishing the taste
Of this entrance to the world of words

======

He Washed their feet

Twelve of them
Dropped their sandals
Smudged with dust
And gave
Him their feet
In trust
And I guess some embarrassment too
To wash
And in washing to cleanse and purify

I wish I could
Clean out the dust
In the closet of my life
Perhaps
If I give my feet too
He would wash out the grime
Just like

He washed their feet

======

Adulthood

He has got his little toy cars all laid out on the formica top
How proud he is of his handiwork
Then he calls out to me, “Quick, come see what I’ve done!”
I look but I miss the logic
I cannot match the excitement in his voice, the glimmer in his eyes
I simply do not understand
Maybe I could have once
Before adulthood robbed me
Of my sight
For the innocent simplicity of life

======

At the Dinner Table

You passed me the salt
It was to your right, I think
And what was it you asked for?
“Honey, could you pass me the curry?”

I didn’t even know you had developed a taste for it
For whom? I wonder

There are lots of things
I don’t know anymore, I guess
We have reached the end
“I will love you forever”

It used to ring true but we don’t even say that
Not to lie, I know

In the middle
Is a bowl of carrots
And we reach for it
Together, maybe there is a chance

======

As Things Go Sour

I saw you
gather a fistful of words
and hurl them at me
like they were confetti and rice
at a wedding party

I saw you
with cheeks bulging
grown round with-
things unsaid
yet desiring to be spoken

I closed my ears
against the pelting rock
tears
like rivulets of blood
scarificate my face
indenting it with marks

I tasted
pain in its purest form

I have become
the handmaid of sorrow
following it into the very depths of hell

======

Seattle, March 1

Bricks and mortar
Cracking
Buildings swaying
Tapping their feet to an unheard tune
Chairs, accomplished, waltzing across floors
“May I have this dance, Miss?”
Running feet
Racing hearts
Praying for an end
Foir the earth to still

======

Poems © Chika Unigwe

Please leave a comment...

*