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Songbird: Poems by Tade Ipadeola

Delta Dialysis

Let this conniption cure
Ailing kidneys of my country,
Let my land’s liver endure
The hard knuckles of her gentry.

Let the mute keening
In the lungs of patriots
Survive the length of this evening
Of hope fading in clay chariots –

And let these millions rise
To rid the land of pestilence
Everywhere present in the eyes
Of bastards here and across the fence.


Maputo Olive

Your poem nails home horseshoes
wears hat, mounts steed
does not look back.
And longing strives but cannot cross
the field. Like Zeno’s arrow.

From now on, the miles
are marked with milestones
of sapphire and a bush
of flowers each
a different fragrance, each a note
from your music that wore a hat
and spurred my wistfulness

Into the terraced night.



Rain does not evade the path of the runnel
Frogs do not decline the call of the stream
The sponge will not refuse the voice of the river
Salt will ever heed the glad eyes of the sea.

The needle does not decline a tryst with cloth
The road does not complain at the tread of feet
When young love meets the moon it blossoms
When eyes meet with beauty the face blooms

So let those who love this land be safe
Let those who hate this land be swallowed
And when the children lift their voices
Let all of those who hear be glad
Let all of those who heed rejoice.


Glory does not kill the morning
Splendour does not slay sunsets
Love for a child does not kill the mother
The praise of fathers does not kill their sons
When a bride kneels before her groom she’s blessed
Whenever a daughter is born
We know we shall not die
Whenever a son is given there is joy
Let all the daughters of this land be fruitful
Let all the sons of this land increase
And if from east or west there should be anger
If from north or south there should be rage
Let all the rage and anger dissipate
Like smoke in the breeze
Like dogdream when it comes awake.


What words we have spoken let them cleave
What hearts belong to us let them not grieve
Let our words find us prepared
Let all our dreams find us prepared
And our land, our country, our earth
Let them find us ready at our end.



So the world became a field
Of birds always rising into flight,
A swarm of starlings and ravens
Restless as a run of frantic locusts….

And I heard the songbird’s call, sonorous
To birds of all seasons to converge
With their chorus of mellow harmonies
And their music of manifold melodies
Plural as the provenance of proverbs –

Sang the songbird: share my perch
Upon this mount of visions
Fellow me with songs beyond haruspications;
Come, share with me your own songs
And let’s incline our ears to each other.

So sang the songbird to the conference,
Her luminous voice a resounding echo
Of her rich fluorescent feathers.
And I heard a chorus rising where birds rose
A moving chorus meant for birds
Of every plumage:

‘The world is a wondrous egg
A wondrous egg, a wondrous egg
The world is a wondrous egg
And it sits on a nest of words’

Words…. mules of meaning, Atlas
That shoulders the planet, let
Me have you in my pouch, not around
My neck, when called upon to account,
Let me be found busy in your loom
With strand on strand of substance.

Words. Wild as waterfalls, you cascade
With the heat of summer in rap songs
And tonight, at a night club in Baghdad,
Only the wise will heed your cautious
Portents. Words!  You roll through winter
In stadium after stadium, powering anthems
Of soccer lovers in deep play, you never
Walk alone, you lead the dance across
The fecund face of the moon. Words,
Your tenderness turns into a gardener
Of flowers on the field of Kigali and Darfur,
Your hands free caged birds in Seoul and Pyongyang.

The songbird sang through harmattan and rain
Of the wondrous, wondrous egg,
The starlings and ravens chorused
Of the nest that holds the egg.

Their voices is a stream
Running over cool stones, singing:

‘The world is a wondrous egg
A wondrous egg, a wondrous egg
The world is a wondrous egg
And it sits on a nest of words.’ 

(This poem won the poetry laurel at the 2009 Delphic Games at Jeju, South Korea)


Poems by Tade Ipadeola

Tade Ipadeola
Tade Ipadeola
Tade Ipadeola is a published poet and a lawyer. His first collection of poems 'A Time of Signs' was published in 2000. His second collection 'The Rain Fardel' was published in 2005. His poetry has won several awards in Nigeria and his poem 'Songbird' won the Laurel in poetry at the 2009 Delphic Games at Jeju, South Korea. Ipadeola is president of PEN Nigeria Centre.

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