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Situations of Alchemy: Poems by Wirndzerem G. Barfee

He visits my fire place

Captive in pens of patriarchs and chameleons, here now I am
Freed by the mat on the streets of shadows and dim lamps
Where on my doorstep stall,
I’m your fruit of irresistible passions,
Veiled bundle of joy that sits waiting for your furtive feet.

You, shade in the anonymous file of buyers
You have seen the dim lamp on my door,
And the moth flies to my illuminated globe searching promises;
I’ll take you in my palm and fold you up,
What warmth, what new incarcerations will you live?

What did you come searching after? Warm baths?
Do you recognize these eyes, these breasts?
Are you saved by the warmth of my darkness?
Don’t you recognize these hands, these hips?
My husband, these hills, these valleys, these plains
Don’t they re-carve the topography of your past pastime?

Dip your body into the sources of my rivers
Dip your fingers into the pots of my broth-and tell-
Don’t you remember the taste of my treat?
What warmth do you feel around the stones of your rejected hearth?

You’ve come crawling home, a lizard safe
In the in the interstices of my breast and hips;
I, helot and odalisque of your seraglio,
Whom you lapidated fixed, a still intaglio
Minted on the heels of your man-boots

Tonight I levitate, leviathan from deep and heavy seas.
Will I, with my body, like python mangle my prey?
Or will I, with my jaws, like shark, maim mine?
Or will I, with my teats, like whale, suckle him?

Husband, night has brought you to my stall, to my hearth.
What would you want, me to parcel for you at dawn
When my veil would’ve fallen with the night’s smoke?
What will our children ask when they learn of the offerer these gifts?


When the Sun Sets Over this Land

Over this land,
The vast and slowly setting sun
Sometimes sinks
Like an overburdened memory:

Cloud of a mammoth submarine, smoking copper,
Submerging with a long day’s tedium;
An immense ghost that will resurrect at night
With the ghastly protean dreams of sinistered days.

Over this land the full moon and million stars
Can be a false roof over nightmarish dungeons,
Where the scream is stifled with iron,
The tear dried with flame, acetylene,
And the blood congealed with deaths.

And there will still be praise poems
Whose songs will be sung by salted tongues,
Diseased tongues whose very wounds
Will openly testify the ritual of plagued fates.

There will be hymns of glory
Whose lyrics of the sun, moon and stars
Will idolate and adulate mundane deities
Whose eternities they know lasts only calendar time.

And there will be love songs too
Whose lines will celebrate happy unions;
Even as the straw is persistently torn
From the nests that housed the bed of these nuptials!

For over this land,
The sun begets the night
When it sinks with its leaden memory,

And the silver moon will suffer to rise with her crystal children
From the dregs of ravaged days-
The darkness that subsists the temporal divinity of a set sun.


States as Headed

I have opiated tribes
With a decadent patience,
I have ankylosized the machine
With a leaden inertia:
Everything is still.
I concoct the ferment of a windless night,
Everything is silent.
The painting of a sepulchered choir,
Everyone is quiet.
The waiting of a reign’s requiem,
Is it?

I have stuffed throats
With banquets of bootied fortune,
I have filled windpipes
With fountains of exotic champagne,
I have bargained and bought silence
With the plunder of a cabal:

Everywhere is empty.
The rust of hollowed safe,
Everywhere is sand.
The absence of gardens,
Every scent is devalued…

And whose child still waits
For germinating seed on these hard-caked rocks?
Everyone is poor.
The blisters of empty hands
That fill your insatiable hands,
Isn’t it?

A river that has drained all tributaries,
Can I deny an answer?
A sea that has swelled with all the rivers
Can I deny an answer?
A tree that has seized all other branches
Can I deny an answer?
A sun that has out burned the constellation
Can I deny an answer?
A power that has swallowed all other powers
Can I deny the sins of my dominions?


Serious Words This Season

He insisted that the contention
Was all about rigged contracts,
Was all about recurrent ellipses and eclipses
Deliberated opacities formed each rendezvous
Around transactions of sovereignty.

These are again serious words to him
This seven-year season rekindled

He is so obsessed with them-
An agitated sorcerer to unyielding incantations,
That he addicts them to infinite oracular permutations
Until language is deconstructed to volatile gibberish:

An apocalyptic tongue that whispers loud presages
Of sinister days on the streets of genetic volcanicity
So, the taunted citizen, he feigns he’d curl a soft smoke

Goes out on these very streets into a small curbshop,
Buys a box of matches, rolls up his political cigar
And ignites a rebellion with a single match stick.

And, again, these are just possibilities…
The Cardinal maybe, had foreread kindred scriptures
In the angry smoke of his darkened eyes.


Situations of Alchemy
(Or the Products of Love)

And time was watching us
As I curled, a whorl of accrued love,
A very cherished foetal clock
Ticking, kicking softly, cuddled – marsupial –
In the cage of your left rib bone un-envious of birth;
Only waiting to be borne, a cherished,
Fetished albatross around your tireless sac of love.

Because of the music of pillow-whispers
Murmured, sighed, those many nights
About gods’ passion for ribs in times of solitude;
You let my fertile saliva lick, many such times,
Around the bone-bars of this cosy refuge;
While you tenderly tickled the tendrils
Of our umbilical cord with your sun-song lullaby.

Because of more, you sang me rivers of love-songs,
As two sole obsessions, like sorcery, possessed you:
I and time intertwined in you, cosmic cradles,
Exquisitely crafted organic watches watching you-
And they have become one sumptuous glass iris,
Each, a delirious mirror on eyes of desire,
Their hands my fingers caressing mother-bones
Turning time in this prison of choice, of love,
Into wombs of poetic passions and painting wider
Our dot in the heart of this circle.


My love is a lunar illusion

A lackadaisical moon
Setting in my cup
Tells me the futilities
Of stuffing my pillows
With tantalizing dreams of you.

I empty that cup on a dawn lake
And snap the scattered refractions of the sun
Rising – a blurred iris floating westward,
An edgeless disc flattened from an addled heart,

Mine. When I fish memories from lakes of promises,
Fertile erstwhile; moonstone from moonscape now,
Only a flag grows- the one you stuck on your skull
For a carnival flower last summer and dervished.
So, why do you keep on planting rocks in my heart?

My emptied horn is silent with dregs of lunacy,
Portions of hysteria I’ll breakfast on by morning.
Tell mother her child’s doing just fine; please don’t tell her the truth:
He’s tormented by an interplanetary babe who’s mad for potencies.

You’ve forged me underwear of lead, the eunuch’s.
I can’t act, can’t react, can only undergo, go under,
See my bed collapse; see my powder dowsed down,
See my thin breast shriveled, cuckold cold, orgy after orgy:

A conspiring moon – a well-fed child
Sleeps in my bowl, an usurped cot –
Reveals the tallest emptiness of filling my mortar
With lunar bubbles of you for tubercles.


Poems (c) Wirndzerem G. Barfee

Wirndzerem G. Barfee
Wirndzerem G. Barfee
Wirndzerem G. Barfee was born on August 1, 1975 in Kumbo, Bui Division, North West Province of Cameroon. He read Mass Communication at the University of Jos, Nigeria, holds a BA in Linguistics and MA in American Literature from the University of Yaounde I where he is currently doing his pre-doctoral DEA with critical interests in eco-criticism and feminism. A two-time participant of the British Council/ Lancaster University CROSSING BORDERS pan-African creative writing program (2004/2006), he had earlier been a selected participant in the BBC/BRITISH COUNCIL Environmental Writing Workshop in 1996. He recently, with a national grant, published a poetry collection, Bird of the Oracular Verb (Iroko Publishers, 2008) and is awaiting in 2009, the publication of his short story, Jury of the Corrupt, which has been included in the Anthology of Cameroonian Short Stories (CCCPress, UK). He also has a passion for songwriting and has written songs in Lamnso (his native tongue), English and French for two local artists. A graduate of the National School of Administration and Magistracy, specialising in public finance, he works with the Ministry of Finance, Cameroon.

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