Talking to a Star while the World Burns: Poems by Oka Benard Osahon

as the world burns
Image: Pixabay.com


Last night a single star sat on the silent sky.
It twinkled its cold light at the dusty world.
It stared at me as most stars do and I stared
Back like only lonely men know how to.
It sought to say something, I think,
Sitting there alone, watching meagre lights
Flicker off and on, years away from it.
I just wondered if it wasn’t an echo
Of a light that led three weary men to a manger.
But what do I know of light across dark spaces?
Or of light inside dark bodies?
Or of burning bodies silhouetting an almost empty sky?
Or a single star, lonely, blinking on a man, alone,
Sitting on dew drenched grass that saw the sun?

Today is Christmas and the star has gone home
But I am here, alone and the moon is smiling;
She brings soothing light but it is not hers to give
And she tells me nothing.
I search the skies for my lonely star tonight, though
And if he does come, I will tell him that it is good to be alone, sometimes;
Especially when light burns too bright as the world loves it to;
Whether within broken bodies or on sinful skins;
Whether from the lips of enraged saints breaking bondages
Or hanging like tongues on the heads of trembling martyrs.

I will wonder what those three men saw in the manger;
I will wonder what that single star saw in the three men;
I will wonder what sin was forgiven and what was left;
I will wonder why light is so bright here and why it brings no relief;
When I see the lonely star sitting in the sad sky watching the world burn tonight.


I want to talk to you
But you are not here, are you?
Your body is a scooped out mussel
Sitting before the sea, before the setting sun.
Will you go home today? Will you tell him?
A crab crawls to your feet and settles in the sand –
A fellow sailor travelling across the sun streaked sky with blank eyes –
You say nothing. You do not blink.

I want you to talk to me.
Tell me how you feel, where you hurt,
What you are thinking of, anything.
But you are not here, are you?
Your body is a sculpted piece gathering dust and moss
Under the splatter of pigeon shit.
Will you leave him this time? Will you tell him?
A bird alights on your finger tips and circles itself,
It flutters its wings and tweets a song.
It has something to say but you are not here.
You are far away in some place I am scared to go.
Please talk to me. I could help you find home again.


We have left our gods
To rust and rot at the back of the house.
We have felled the grooves for wood to make chairs,
To seat our fat behinds and stretch our tired feet.
We have turned away from the sea and we
Face the desert in prayer and fear.
We have come away empty, from gifts giving
And our arms are heavy from carrying sins.

When the moon rises, full and flush with heat
And her limbs lie slack with need,
When the dust of the harmattan settles
Under the strength of the first rains,
When the bees and butterflies find the rich nectar
Of returning flowers,
When our sins fall from us like dandruff and dead ticks,
Then we will come home.

We will come to our gods, broken under the tree,
We will patch their skins and pour libations on their parched lips.
We will give them the blood of fat cocks, goats and sheep –
We will plant a new grove to shroud their faces from pagans,
We will break the chairs to make kindling for the feasting
And our tired feet will dance without fear,
And then we will face the sea in prayers and supplications,
The dust of the desert clinging to our shoulders.
Poetry © Oka Benard Osahon
Image: Pixabay.com remixed

About the author

Oka Benard Osahon

Oka Benard Osahon is a writer from Nigeria. He has appeared and is upcoming on several literary journals and blogs including Grotesque, Brittle Paper, Kalahari Review, The Friday Influence, Praxis Magazine, Visual Verse, among others. He loves to read fantasy, thrillers and murder mysteries.


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