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Sojourner: Poems by Chika Okeke

Sojourner I

The Voice comes from afar
Beyond beds of stars
And the horizon of mars
The Voice rides to my ears
On the wings of technology
The Voice comes as from far
The Voice of my Spiritchild
As from mount Horeb.


Sojourner II

It is cold again today
Though the snow melts away
Leaving in its wake
Damp moist winds
But speaking to you today
My Spiritchild
From far beyond
A thousand miles
Your voice draws into this heart
Warm drafts of joy.


Sojourner III

I reach again into the belly
Of the skygod
I float again beyond clouds
Of tensed nerves
And recurring dream of
Seamless nights
I yearn to touch or hear
The voice of my
Distanced by hills and streams
Of fourteen days.


Sojourner IV

To the sojourner with a heart
Of ivory
Give a leather shield
Of transcendence
And to the irreverent gambler
On the ever famished road
Give the Queen of hearts
And our god’s broken promise.


Sojourner V

The trench is filled
And the water is dark
And murky with leeches
And thorns and bones
The trench we must cross
To our in-laws home
Is filled with dry bones
And painted figurines
From yesteryear’s rituals
The trench we must cross
To our father’s house
Is filled with fearsome fish
And we must now jump
Into our destinies
The road we must now take
Is littered with bones
Of yesterday’s sojourners.

(c) Chika Okeke

Chika Okeke
Chika Okeke
Chika Okeke is an artist, curator and art historian. His own work has been shown in Africa, Europe, Asia and North America. He has co-curated such groundbreaking shows as Seven Stories at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1995), The Short Century at the Museum Villa Stuck, Munich (2001) as well as the Nigerian pavilion at the First Johannesburg Biennale. He is an academic consultant for Documenta11, Kassel. Okeke is a member of AKA Circle of Artists, and the Committee for Relevant Art, Lagos. He has written widely on the work of Nigerian and African artists. His current research at Emory University, Atlanta is on Nigerian art during the independence decade.


  1. It would be nice to read the rest of the book. Just the beginning promises an honest, true-to life account of being the son of such a great man. Having a father who is similar (I suppose many African fathers of colonial education suffer the same ‘opportunities and responsibilties-syndrome’)I’m going “yeah, I know what you mean” with every line. Great stuff.

  2. Love these poems. Brings to mind my phone calls to loved ones, distances to be traveled between where I am and where they are… No laborious language. Goes straight to the heart.

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