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Ohikhuare Isuku: Poems from a Depressed Soul who is not Afraid to Die

life death


Still, there are virgin lands
scattered around the earth;
and there are verdant hills,
plains and sprawling valleys
where my body can find rest
if death decides in his kindness
to rescue me from life’s painful grip.

There are still good
women in my climes
with voices sharper
than the flutes;
they’ll sing the dirge of
my passing to travelling wind,
and to the sun drowning in the sea.

There are still strong kinsmen
who’ll make my grave deep
and offer the best design
to the rim of my casket.

Hence, it’s not death
I am scared of; rather it’s life:
this life who has built
his castle upon the sand of injustice.



Death should have a grove
where we offer him sacrifice,
not for his perceived fury
to be appeased,
but for subtle veneration:
to thank him for
telling life to his face:
“you are but a ruse to men”.

There should be a festival
to honour death,
where praise-singers
can test the fineness
of their tunes,
the drummers their craftiness
and those who play the flutes,
the mastery of their trade.

Death deserves honour not curse,
deserves sacrifices like gods,
for he is a man’s true friend.



Come let us say to life
when we see him
in his robes of pride
that we’ve fled from
his mournful claws
to host death in our loft.

Come let us mock
his stingy gifts
and place our palms
between our enthralled gaze
and the shimmering moon;
for all this beauty only masks
the ugliness of life’s dealings.

Let us say to his face:
“we’ve chosen to drift away
from your lovable bay
and be distant from
the warmth of your sun.”
For life’s burden surpasses
the sweetness of his trysts.

Let us tell him,
we’ve decided to
take the path less travelled
into the distant woods
where absolute peace abides,
where burden has no home.

So let us tell life straight that
he has lost a few of his slaves
to the enclave of utopian peace
although I doubt if he’ll care.



Come over my brethren,
to the open,
to the playground sand
under the full-moon,
away from life’s flame and dunes.

Life is more dangerous
than an adder which rears up
on the path. He’s a deceiver
who while fanning you,
digs up a little happiness
from your holding.

Come then my compatriots,
with your flutes and drums,
with the swiftness of your feet
and let us begin a feast of honour
for he who truly deserves it.

Tonight we shall roll out
the welcome log for death
and give him a festival of praise,
for he has rescued us
from life’s poisonous sting.



There’s an old woman
who became my friend
because under the moonlight
one breezy night,
she spoke boldly
about her death,
hoping it would be soon.

But yesterday,
I saw her crying home
from her garden
after escaping death’s sting;

I thought
she could embrace
death with a beaming smile.

Poems © Ohikhuare Isuku

Ohikhuare 'Emmanuel' Isuku
Ohikhuare 'Emmanuel' Isuku
Ohikhuare 'Emmanuel' Isuku is a Nigerian writer. His play – The Ballot and the Sanctuary (released under the pseudonym Emmanuel Isuku) – was published in 2014 by University Press, PLC., Ibadan. Currently, he is at work on a full length novel.

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