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Poets are Poor: Two Poems by John Chizoba Vincent


Omawumi birthed venom yesterday
She won’t marry me again because
I am a poet, she said poets are poor
Is my pen not worthy to buy her make up?
If poetry gives no money, I will still be one.

When the arrow of folly is carved
Wisdom backs off to the galaxy of stars
Poetry can’t be broken easily like sticks
Poets live beyond the rivers of warlords
Poverty is not in the secret lexicon of poets.

Mother sent me out of the house
Because I told her I want to be a poet,
She cursed my generation to come
Then wrote a note to my future never
To favour me in my desperate journey.

When the eyes of stupidity is begotten,
When the mouth stands taller than the nose,
When the scent of a madman becomes pleasant,
Check the nose that picks the aroma well
Poets are the million airplanes in the sky.

“Poets are poor” my teacher screamed at me
“Can’t you be a doctor or lawyer than a poet?
You will sing without song in your mouth soon,
There won’t be bread on your table to eat
And you will measure yam before you eat it”

Let the perception of a saint be kept,
Musical artistes are not idols to worship
I can also be praised in my own corner
Please your eyes with your sinful thought
Poets are the lust in the eyes of the saints.

“How many houses does Wole Soyinka have?
How much did Chinua Achebe have?
You will just die and perish without worth,
Nothing but bitter tears and sorrowful blood”
My sister barked at me this morning!

It is not my tale to tell of a house and money!
Not my business to know those in their covens
All fingers are not the same as all men are not
My tomorrow has been written favourably,
I only water it through the idea of the gods.

“Go get a life, poets are sick with words!
Poets are poor! Poetry is no treasure to keep
Go and join Ekene in his business at Onitsha
That would keep bread on your table not poetry”
Father buttered my ears last breeding night.

What is my business with business?
Poetry will keep food on my table soon
Poor poets are not my cup of tea to drink
Everyone has a different mindset and vision
Soon, poetry will be commercial and, we earn
Much more than Dangote and Mike Adenuga.



For boys of tomorrow who went,
forgive our ignorance of the old,
forgive us for taking the unripe
mangoes from the top of the trees.
Let your minds be written restfully,
the sky owes us an obligation to protect you.
The sun was once our enemy in the noon
that was why we overstepped and slept
with those innocent girls made for tomorrow.
We bred fears and our sins have purged us all-
We are the ancient keeper of the culture
yet, abuse it openly in the eyes of tomorrow,
for boys who went after us,
Ikemefuna will come again,
this time not from Okonkwo’s lineage;
for Okonkwo was weak even to himself.
Not through Kainene; for she lost her prestige.
Not after Inu-Ego; for she died longing for children.
Not through Kambili, for she was braver than earth.
We are imperfect because we are human
of breast milk.
The sins of your fathers shall be of secret,
It will not be used against you all.
Forgive us for the mistakes to come,
we have a dream that your dreams will be our dreams,
not of faith but of grace, grace of thought.
We’ve sinned before the creator but
arrange your hopes in ascending order,
tomorrow holds a greater testament on your faces.
Forgive us for marrying your mothers even before
their shy apples came out to see the dark earth.
If the moon has to cry,
let it be upon our head.
Put the blame on us, for we are human;
we are imperfect human of breast milk,
for butter is not meant for monkeys.


Poems © John Chizoba Vincent (From A Pen Refusing Frustration)

John Chizoba Vincent
John Chizoba Vincent
John Chizoba Vincent has become the names of three people who deliberately see through each other. Sometimes, they are at war with each other and at times, they are the ties that never get broken. They: Them: Us: We represent Boys and their Anatomies, Men and their vulnerabilities, and Humans and their imperfections. Between them are rosy track roads that are rough and tough. They live in a lonely room in Lagos, Nigeria.


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