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Windows: Poems by ‘Niran Okewole


Abnormalities of view-foresight,insight,
Second sight and all solecisms of
Called vision.
-Wole Soyinka

Dispenser of Parodies,
I am your errant child, seeking restitution
from a riddle about origins.
I alone in Egypt am afflicted with the eleventh
a plague of windows. Blasting a hole through the wall,

the old Swede, surely one legacy must beget another.
The world, it worships an atavist god, nothing is new.
Streams of consciousness flowing bring
cockroach figures of humans
living out the rituals of turbulent lifetimes.
From my mounted height I feel I transcend it all,
only I am plagued by windows like
slits in the dark

slits in the dark eye of the sky-god,
drawing blood, not water
slits in the eye of the river-god,
river of blood, not water
slits in the eye of the earth,
yielding paradigms. Split oil of mysteries.
A slit on palm fronds, on night leaves,
a slit on the face of time.

Aladdin’s magic carpet is made of glass.
I can fly. The genie is a mouse on a desktop
pad, mine the click that opens up windows of the
Vast store houses of knowledge, floating files
Like sailboats on blue waters on a sunny day.
After this pilgrimage of windows, only one thing
is certain. Not cogito, ergo sum. I know. I know.



What does it matter if
today at the round the cleft-lipped doctor
snacked on my innards? Elevenses, my ears!

Awodi bird grows fat on curses,
feeds fat on the fury.

Tight like a sphincter in communismus,
what does it matter, anyway
what does it all matter really?

Hiding behind a copy of Homer’s Odyssey
(“Perhaps he would have preferred a more
liberal education ,” she said)
Editions of “Economist,” Beckett’s Malone Dies,
the trip, lost chicks, seeing Efunsetan Aniwura.
Tolstoy’s borrowed boots, purchasing watered palm wine
with cowries, kinsmen of the gourd, the proletcult.
Like the foetus of chapelizod, a coral on old string.

Abiku, Boston, Gottingen. A lance that bleeds not
not pus. White chalk, camwood, stars in Hawking’s
A crescent fragment of Ela’s broken calabash, lamp-
lighter in Eliot’s preludes.

The sodomy of Higg’s particles. Shells. Old Tortoise,
poet, listening to himself, undying, dies to the
crack of ancient-shelled wisdoms. Like King

Ubu, eating iced body cream, in micro-tubules. His
black people lachrymostly, mostly misled . EBT can’t
help the only child, poor Mrs Ubu.

Walking into the twilight, ingénue, simple as
life, like Templars. Was the tower
of Babel a phallic menhir thrusting vainly in
search of the whoring skyhole?


The old sea-dog with towering mane,
the gong of Meinong, ringing beasts in our logic.
Ithaca (Itakun): Telemachus sits in a hotel
lounge, waiting for his father.

The Jew of Princeton, the Spanish Jew, the one
who did not fight in the war
where Orwell got his throat shot.
There is another war in Cuba-
We will bury you! -bury the capital markets.

No more lies, girl, no more innuendos
About missile defence. Nightmare girl, you dance
Seductively to the makossa of guns. Largo, diminuendo.

Ulysses is a quest for the soul.



We turn in our dreams, hanging
from slowing moving ceiling
fans, listening
to Larry King and the butler.
The ventriloquists, they have no business
on Elephant Mountain.

But not like the fluid motion of the hydra
down at sea, not like the gyro of
anemones. Angles, Ares, old Euclid sits alone
On a platform of geometries, cheering the
weaving dance of histories,
dance of confluent minds among worlds,
Uncle Ezra’s logopoeic vision.

Pirouetting on a pinhead looks
easy when you’re an Orisa.
Leopard skins and leotards may be
out of fashion for wood-gods,
they are dressed to kill.

The dancer is a jungle goddess.
“Have you seen her eyelashes!”
“No, It’s her broken front teeth I’ve seen,”
“The bomb, isn’t she.”
“Better. She’s the night after the bomb.”
“And the morning after.”
No pills.


(After George Szirtes)

As the Titanic sinks….
“Gentlemen, it has been a pleasure
playing with you”
can this air from strings float
a sinking ship?
(Nearer, my God, to Thee.)
We approach the watery gates of
heaven and hell.(Nearer.)
The prospects are (Nearer!) uncertain
but surely we have to go?
The strings. The strings. Lifting our wives
and children on ice on water (while)
a rich, lily-livered one refuses
(Nearer to Thee) not to go (to the lilies)…

The violinist is a droll-eyed
old teddy with untidy strings for hair
teasing out melodies of the mind
that played into being a new vision
of the world, then proceeded to blow
it apart: now he must watch with
horror as the symphony he co-created
orchestrates our fear of the end
of the world.(All the king’s men and
all the king’s horses could not put
the double-stranded drumsticks and crotchet
sticks and bass and treble clefs
of the Mikado’s children together again.)

The violinist: a radical cosmologist
balancing past, present and future on
a theory of ten strings.

To the one whose (un)finshed symphony
with a broken symmetry was a
triumphant affirmation of life:
your G-string has held me captive.
On my head let the curtains fall.



I am not drunk, I saw old man
Kaposi in a white beard, grinning from slide
to slide. Camillo and Santiago, two peas
in a nervous pod, ogling a breast
Fibroadenoma. Where did all the
Purkinje cells go? No stain on slide
X.Why Z is such a cerebral
medulloblastoma I do not know-
capsule, fibroelastic stroma. Hyalin, dense
collagen, ducts (keratin pearls..necklace?)
squamous cell papilloma of the skin.
Benign warts, finger-like projections extending
to the surface, intact basement membrane.
Brunner’s glands, invasive stomach carcinoma,
firstborn of an ulcer, like Solzhenitsyn-Kostoglotov.
(It’s what you eat kills you, or what’s eating you.)
Plasmacytoma, a nucleus turning cartwheels.
Reactive change, stages of the lymphocyte god.

A cortex of compact cells, medulla of clusters.
Mr Hodgkin’s glands, mixed cellularity type. And
The cells of Reed and Sternberg: who said
the ant has no eyes?
Malaria pigments, No 142. Spleen.
328, fatty liver with metastatic capsular
squamous carcinoma. Burkitt’s in 276, brain.
God bless the benign Dr Chang. And the
malignant Prof Thomson. No “Amen” for Dr Ogunba,
drunk as a microscope, slurring over S. mansoni.
197: comedo dragons in the ducts of a breast
lobule. 171, cervix. ” who beat Rebecca Lancefield
black and blue?” The smear on her face
was made by papa. Papanicolau.



Osunfunke, female alter ego of Morpheus,
dips a calabash into the great pond
and offers it to the famished voyager.
“Drink, and replenish your thirst from the
river of dreams. Then wake to act.’

The ascent, slow wave. Nonvisual, ruminative.
The forgotten dream, but polysomnographs do not lie.
Black Jack, climbing down the brain-
stem, fleeing the money market ogre.

Long, like the dream of an elephant.

I am the spiny anteater, a monotreme.
I alone have solved the riddle of dreams.
Hide your fears in symbols…

In the third watch of the night I, Scipio,
saw many nations at the edge of the World
Bank, waiting to drown in a river of debt.
Each people elected their own boatmen to
ferry them into the bowels of the forbidden river.

The gulf of transition, before the descent.
Sleep spindles, wave forms, 14 to 16 Hz,
interspersed with high amplitude K complexes.
Alpha waves, uncoil, recoil, the new delta waves.
The royal road to the unconscious is paved
with mathe-matical symbols. Cymbals.

But not in Darfur, not Beslan, not the Gaza
Strip, stripped of semiotic elegance.
Only transformational-generative hell.
Here dreams wear the toga of bloodreality.


The rapid eye of the moving camera reel
assembles snapshots, a kaleidoscope of image-events.
PGO waves. Limbic ones, kicking limbs as neural
analogs of obsession, Hippocampus,
horse of memory, mare of the deep, deep night.

Take drugs for these parasitic oscillations. Purge
you of nostalgia, of childhood, where fantasies of
innocence met a willing god in the fulfillment
of primeval wishes. Orisa ewe, ma p’egbe awa lekun.


(For W.S)

The heavy hand of night falls lightly,
lightly upon Sisyphus.

It is a dog slain at the altar,
the deity has no taste for lamb.
The wine of the Eucharist is white,
three days to distill the riddle of the palm.

Twilight becomes the trader, after the
last wares are sold and the
last oil lamps doused and the
mother heads home, bag full of wosi-wosi.
Night time, on Samarkand road.

Ake evenings beget other evenings- Cairo airport,
Castro’s Cuba, Oshogbo, down and out in Paris with
the Guatemalans, a cell, awaiting trial
for wild-west-gun-radio-justice. Cryptoshuttling.
Night, and the refugee from king Baabu border-
hops on a motor bike. Under a black moon
the worshippers sing the song of the
Not-I bird,
trading for organ preludes the rhythm of ancestral

The love of night liberates the world from darkness.



Whatever is,is not.
Sure as the horse pulls the plough,
things wear out. We watch
the heat of things flow out as time
goes by. Buildings collapse, crumble away,
nothing remains but a brick.
Unborn children grow old and die, under
the shadow of the au pair,
perched on a window pane,
tattling and chewing carrots.
Nothing remains but a tale that is told.

Two men in a bar talked about the fall
One was Soren, the other Jean Paul.

Eventualities, linked, by Kronos and Kairos,
(linked,) two monkeys in a circus act.
(the brass belly-button of the page seeks to obscure
this tale, but it must be told, ’cause sure as)
This also is called time,
this, the elegy of Rip van Winkle,
the headless horseman riding backwards.
The future is a guillotined Miss Easypiss,
flowing into the past.

That clumsy angler, man, head a can of grey
worms, swears a reversal of principles:
order is the serendipitous  harvest of chaos sown –
stately houses, recycling projects, immortality gene.
(His name is Roger, he cures the mind.
He heats up his tea when it is cold.
“I do not like Digestives. I do.”)

This also is time, chyme chiming
to the belly’s rhythm.
The dialectics of multiversalism:
“the earth is a closed system, or else
a system of closures.” The worlds are
bubbles in God’s bath-tub, the Universe
a great ball of akara, saara
soaked in goat milk. Bubbles.


(For Ken Saro Wiwa and Nnimmo Bassey)

esta tierra
este aire
este cielo
son los nuestros
-Fidel Castro

The delta weeps oil, weeps blood

The real swamp dwellers, the elfs,
wear camouflage uniforms with chevrons
on their sleeves, espousing gunpoint capitalism
at Bakalori, Bori, Brass, Odi,
where pipes turn dreams to nightmares.
(The goose is gassed that lays the golden egg,
you shall be shocked out of your shells.
Shell-shocked, Shelled.)

All is not well that ends with
the water in the well,
because the oil well

The delta weeps oil, weeps blood

Fishermen cry on the river bank,
but oil magnates smile all the way
to the bank.
Sclerosed ducts, where are the tears?
The virgin face of motherland is marred with
sebum plugs. She can’t talk about the rape.
Blood pipelines defy the aneurysm needle,
burst all over the riverine cortex.

Earth spirits, rigged, holding elections for the land.
The gods are not spared.

Earth-gods cannot solve the riddle of dynamite
Sky-gods choke on flared fumes
River-gods refuse the sacrifice borne on
spilt oil, spilt blood
Bloated corpses defile the face of the goddess.

The delta weeps oil, weeps blood

“My tribe is Ogoni.”
“Agony,” writes the recruiting officer. Caucasian.
“I am Andoni.”
Again he scribbles “Agony.”
“We’ll get in touch with you soon..”

Newsflash: Nine Ogoni men hanged
because their oily blood was
part of the witchdoctor’s recipe
for a tyrant’s failing liver.


This earth is ours
and the air
and the sky
we will defend them.

Grandpa’s kettles, floating downhill
the soup ladle grew strings and
played Mexican music
(making passes at Octavio Paz)
The teapot spouted heresies
Old man river in a rocking chair
by the fireplace, where the baby jaguar
threatened with extinction plays with
cotton balls. “With these I shall
mutilate every heart that doesn’t care,”
Grandma declares, brandishing knitting needles.

” Mother, they have plucked the eye of
the earth. “Pilgrims all,
but she paid him no heed,
like Time in the painting of Goya,
devouring her children.

defenderemos. defenderemos.


(c) Niran Okewole

Niran Okewole
Niran Okewole
Niran Okewole was born in September 1977. He studied Medicine at the University of Ibadan. He won the MUSON Festival Poetry Prize in 2002 and 2003. He also won the ANA (Oyo State) Drama Prize in 2000. The poems are from the collection, Logarhythms, published in 2005 by Khalam Editions. He is currently on a residency programme at the Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba,Lagos.


  1. Hello there,

    In case it is not clear, this is a response to your collection on African

    I am sure I don’t need to say it but man is your work great Your command of the english language and your use of imagery are nothing short of divine. The subjects you touch are so diverse it’s almost like you are four people at once. Yours is probably one of the best collections I ever read (anywhere and that includes really big books).

    That being said, I am contacting you to see if I could post some of your work in a writing group that I am part of. I think they would really appreciate the read. I already posted a link to your work but we like to break things down a bit more so let me know if that’s alright.

    Anyway, I am really glad I got to read your work, it is truely inspiring. And what is more so is the fact that you are a doctor. Much props man.

    Well, I look forward to hearing from you. I also have a collection on African Writers so if you have the time, I would really appreciate a quick reading and perhaps some commentary. I’m the newest addition as of the time I sent this email.


  2. Your works are good & truly Afisecal in concept. Please try and get in contact with me when you can.I am working on something you may be interested in.

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