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Swansong: Poems by Bode Asiyanbi


In the dead of many restless nights
Orion hunting for wayward stars
Northern lights singing a long lost song and
Silence grappling at my unshod heels,
I took my mind for a throbbing walk

Leash tightened around its aching neck
We walked the plains of Chimola, wading
The marshes of Forcados
Glow worms lighting our path, dark oaks lining
Sinuous ways in the belly
Of the midnight wind.
With beaded gourd and bush lantern
Heart set on trail, mind hard at heels
We walked…wading sights and songs
Into foxskin pouches

I know

I know the pebble of words from their empty mouths
I know the running rhythm of their talking drums
They will say their errant brother has run mad again
His tiny head heavy with halting songs and curious tales

Ogiri alapa!

Shake their words into running waters and let me take you
To where I have been
Me Olabode with my basket mouth and
Senescent tongue calloused like town crier
Let swing high and dangerously low
The itching chariot of your wondering ears
Me, Akanni Opomulero’ diviner god of a thousand tales
Cheeks swollen with naked mysteries
Of here and distant lands

Come and see
Pregnant cyclone swirling desert sand
Into poignant air
Where wasteland of clumsy shacks
And torn mackintoshes
Rise and fall…
With the musing undulation of watching dunes

Come, come and see
Where thousands lay hacked, forgotten,
Buried alive on and under the tired desert earth…
Where mothers and daughters, violated
By same men weep into empty bowls,
Baffled bastards turning listlessly
In their wombs, bitter and sour…
Where sons, husbands, fathers lay dead,
Dying and shivering with impotent hearts
Beating in lyricless dirge.


Come, come and see
Where Zombic horsemen prepare the earth’s altar
For government bombs to rain death and spill dark blood
In sickening sacrifice
Where death stalks, sickness reigns
Where hopelessness is life
And punctured future buried in many yesterdays

Come, come and see
A mother helpless
In a thickening pool
Of muttering blood,
Heaving and gasping for thinning breath,
Flattened stomach ripped apart by
Grouchy bullets,
Her skeleton child
Huddled on a desert mound
And a plump scavenger
Sitting patiently like a silent fiend, watching claws
Itching, primed for a double dinner, while
Glasses clink, banters fly
And a soccer stadium howls in frenzy, somewhere
Up and not too far,
Where the two Niles meet
And flow away in sentient ignorance

And quietly we leave as we came… quietly, quietly…shhhh



Sprawling off the watery womb of Yemoja;
Reluctant offspring of the foamy sea,
With its Highbrows, Lowbrows, Beggars
Of valour,
In their High-rises Low-rises, Shanties
Of squalor,
Clutching desperately at one another, like
Mottled sand on the seashore.


(c) Bode Asiyanbi

Bode Asiyanbi
Bode Asiyanbi
Born January 18, 1982 in Nigeria, Bode Asiyanbi has a degree in Microbiology from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, and currently works in one of the leading financial institutions in Nigeria. He was the 2005 Winner of the BBC African Performance Playwriting prize. He also writes for the BBC world service trust in Nigeria.


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