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Suns of the Dead: Poems by Anthony Okpunor


And so we have been told – everything
happens for a reason,
I understand,
but sometimes it’s easier to forget
and just write about whispers looming over headstones
and sometimes it means we have
to give ourselves to the music of the dead.
It’s pure –
the thing is, I’m afraid of telling a
sobbing mother that water washes the soul,
whether she will curse me or cry, I do not know;
but there is grace in wishing the dead peace of mind.
It’s the same everywhere;
the noise of mud lifting tombs at night, it’s a sign of repentance.
Most likely, to be a lullaby means your mouth is opium
filled with incense and light,
it is true; when we stand together,
our hearts connect & songs drive us home –
into an abyss – a place where loss is lyric
searching for dry land.



What do you think father will say? Is he still sleeping?
Let’s ask, maybe god loves ghosts but
don’t be too sure in a haste.
Hey! You’re falling in love; watch your temper,
or should I ask father?


Let’s go to sleep, please. And when I close my eyes,
do not look at me – I will be – be staring at . . .
strange . . .
are we already dreaming? Boys don’t sing with their eyes closed
or do they?

To hate music is a way of dying.
Do you know why a mosquito sings in your ear before
she breaks your skin with her songs?
She’s just trying to say she’s in love. Love is not far from death –
men do not understand; she’s an old jewellery like rusts & diamonds
and that is hilarious.
I will not say fathers’ jokes were vintage,
I will not lie, I hated the way he wore his heartbeat; he made it look
like a waste of time.

& my deepest apologies, I do not want to wake sleeping men
yet. Father is still learning to live, we should start
saying our prayers. Collect water, collect smoke, collect fire.
These three made certain men like Vinci, and
it made others; father.

Tell father it’s not true, he’s not seeing the rainbow,
the rainbow is sign that a woman
once made father sweet and he thought of music, worship, loathe.

Look! There is sand in the front yard,
we should gather it into the house. That’s what father would have wanted.
When the dust settles, the sky is choked with red sand;
father always said that. I know you’ve heard him say it too,
I just don’t know what it means.

It means a lot,
it means he was too much for the spiders, they couldn’t tame him.
But someday perhaps, let’s hope we will fill his shoes with
colours – bless his memory with incense; holy wine always made him drunk.

The priest said,
let’s not consecrate his body, it will fly back to hell –
he said he would scream.
I have never seen him that scared. It means there’s something
he’s not telling us. Stay sharp!
Hey! This is not the time to cry!
Do not let me see your tears, I know what it means to be a river and
I’m not saying I’m sad, I’m not. I’m two seas drawing lines from somewhere
close to purgatory.
But do not ask me if I’m okay –
I would have to open my mouth and I’m scared of drowning.
Poetry © Anthony Okpunor
Image: NCinDC via Flickr

Anthony Okpunor
Anthony Okpunor
I live and write from Asaba in Delta State. I discovered poetry as a form of self-expression from my early days of writing. Good & epic music inspire a lot of my works, some of which have been published on social media and in forthcoming magazines. At the least, I believe each one of us is a poet, we just express ourselves in different ways and with different mediums.

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