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When I am Dead and Gone: Poems by Jekwu Ikeme


…..I shall not sleep in silence,
I shall neither weep in self pity
Nor reap from the vineyard of dupes;

I shall not lie an elite corpse,
Gilded in a marble tomb
Away from the soil’s yearning cry for manure,

I shall not stretch my hands
By my side
And lie quietly to a snoreless sleep
Like a log of termite-deserted wood.

But I shall exhume the forgotten debris
Of tombed toddlers
And scuttled tomorrows,
Of walled whims
And wailing view-ways,
Of torn wills
And wilted waiting hopes.

I shall enroll actively
In the supreme council
Of our ancestors;
A chronicler of their sundry verdicts
On the trials (of) miscreants;
A propounder of stiff penalties
For jezebel and the judases.

When I am dead and gone,
I shall yet live
A voidless thorn
In the flesh of stench,
A formless vocalist
In the requiem of tricksters.

With ease and peace
Shall I rest,
But surely not silently.



I, alone
with the flute of my prophecies
lie disheveled
in the womb of this-tress
by the debris of my dreams
by the arches of the scabbard,
the earth will bear witness
for it was, it is and shall always be,
it saw, it sees and shall always see,
and from it
stretches the umbilical
unto the amnion of fate.

I lie, submissive
soaked in the promises of dawn
waiting in the lore
blinking to the shore
groping for the lens of insight;
to read the lips of the wind
to pick armistice
from the armpit of time.
I lie easy,
with this muse hanging
on the knob of my gaol,
murmuring my longings
fluting my convictions
to the hearing of fate,
yet my nest is my thorn,
my conviction is my gaoler, for;
in the lie of the folly-age
in the longitude of foggy-thieves,
in the grain of this cry
I lie, waiting for the coming of light
hoping for the dawning of dawn,

yet we shall nip the bud of this wait,
we shall wake the noon
from the slumber of twilight,
we shall kick fade-wells
after dusk and eclipse
and we shall arch these verses
to pillar, the ascent of dawn.



‘I do not want to go on being a root in the dark,
hesitating, stretched out, shivering with dreams,
downwards, in the wet tripe of the earth,
soaking it up and thinking, eating everyday.’

  Pablo Neruda
…I want to be the shoot
the sword of sunlight,
protruding, slicing, piercing
through the air of time
with the hilt of dawn.

I want to live these dreams,
to clasp the moon in my bosom
to soar beyond stars,
to glow, to grow,
to touch and be touched
by lightning’s many fingers.

I want to mediate the photosynthetic miracle
in the womb of shriveled leaves,
feeding the skeins and veins
with morsels of fertility.

I want to be the shoot,
hard with scars of gales,
dripping with the rain’s seasonal promises
burdened with regurgitated harvests.

I want to be the shoot;
the sword in the hand of Shaka,
the defiance in the gut of Mandela,
sticking out in the face of  seasons,
living its dream.



It is a daily spectacle,
everyday wears its own bloodcover
over a snarling frame of torture.

We wake each day
with false smiles and dreamt peace,
with the dangling noose inching closer.
We brush the noose affectionately
mistaking it for a lifeline,
aiding its treacherous descent
into the hollows of life.

We are dying slowly here
by sequential amputation;
first goes the mind
which drags the soul along,
in their wake trails the will,
the humor, the strength and sanity.

Deception dangle wreaths
in the face of truth
offering condolences to principle,
I saw it seize the heart of Mobutu
and fling it down the rack of wreck.

The guardians of our lot;
with the speed of snail,
prescribe their oral-therapy
paying RIP-service to the rescue mission,
but a dead man is numb to rhetoric.
We are dying slowly here,
right in the glare of our mother’s stare.

Where has the laughter gone?
Where, our songs and dances?
Another death has struck
and left the land quiescent,
and our footsteps tread falteringly,
but surely slowly towards death.


Jekwu Ikeme
Jekwu Ikeme
Jekwu Ikeme is a scientist, poet and public affairs commentator. He obtained his MSc and PhD from Oxford University and De Montfort University, both in the United Kingdom. He has had poems featured in Okike - an African journal founded by Chinua Achebe, and ANA Review - the official journal of Association of Nigerian Authors. His poem was also featured in "Halala Madiba", a collection of poetry in honor of Nelson Mandela. He has two unpublished collection of poems: Encumbered we stand akimbo and The coming of light or the crucifixion of darkness. He has published numerous articles and scientific papers in Newspapers, anthologies and journals around the world. He currently lives in the US where he runs his corporation.


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