Broken Loose (Christ the Redeemer)

It’s 1:50am. GMT +1. I’ve just finished watching Italy get ahead of England. SuperSport, with a tourist’s lens, takes me to Rio de Jeneiro. Of course, the landmark statue in Rio de Jeneiro, Christ de Redeemer, did not escape its lens. A tourist’s delight any day. It was then I remembered “Broken Loose (Christ the Redeemer)”, a poem of mine.

“Broken Loose (Christ the Redeemer)” was inspired by the “Christ the Redeemer” statue at the peak of the Corcovado mountain, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is published in my collection, Stranger in the Mirror off My Life & Other Pieces. I thought sharing it hours after World Evangelism Day, and at a time the eye of the world is on Brazil was not a bad idea.

Broken Loose (Christ the Redeemer)

What you see
When you open your eyes
Is what you want to see

Like Christ the Redeemer
At the peak of the Corcovado mountain
Concrete and soapstone,
With open arms
The Redeemer,
Symbol of peace

Do you see Jesus?
Do you see a cross?
A crucifix?

Peak of piety? Icon for Rio de Janeiro?
Perhaps, a tourist delight?
Idol worship?
Raving romance between architecture and art –
Awesome and ageless?

What you see
When you open your eyes
Is what you want to see

For me, redeemed
Broken loose from your pupils of prejudice
Like the outstretched arms of the Redeemer at the peak
Sky-high
Feel like flying…

(c)Senator Ihenyen 2013

If Everyday Was June

I’ve always been fascinated by the appearance of rainbow in the sky. I don’t know exactly why. And of all the months in the year, I’ve discovered that I see more rainbows in June. It’s the time of the year when, often times, it would be shinning and raining at the same time. The natural phenomenon also wakes a lot of memories and thoughts inside me. Naturally. From the beauty of life, to the colours of love, and the transient nature of everything that we may now have. I wish June could last all year long. If only everyday was June…

If Everyday was June

If everyday was June
I would have sworn
That our lips will never path in this kiss
Of raving romance.

If everyday was June
I would have sworn
There will be no heartbreak
in our love affair

…the kiss of the sun and the rain
Paints the rainbow in June
and afterwards, leaves
an empty cloud for the earth.

(c)SenatorIhenyen2011

‘If Everyday was June’ is selected from Senator Ihenyen’s Colourless Rainbow, Coast2Coast, 2011, 72.

May 29

MAY 29

(I)

….whirlwinds spinning slowly upward
heavy clouds gathering and darkening
lightning and violent thunder in the troubled sky…
Yet, not a single drop of rain on the brittle dryness of the earth
the raging harmattan fire in our hearts!

The surging sorrow that whispers wildly in the wind
The pains that gather with heaviness in our eyes
Like the gloomy overcast,
And these hearts of thunderstorms!

These tears rolling down
Instead of the rain that never fell…

(II)

…the rain that never fell!
The rain that never rolled on our falling faces!
The rain that never kissed the river,
that ripples of liberty may rise in our souls in a land so still!
It never fell to wash away the blood of brutality that poured
from the pillars of power. The chains of our hearts
that never let our wings fly.

Enslaved in these chains of corruption,
mutilated behind bars of brutality,
I hear the slain hearts of heroes thumping,
thundering in protest against the rumbling drums of our
decapitated democracy.
If it is democracy that gives tongues to mutilated mouths
Then let this tongue cry for Dele Giwa!
Let this tongue cry for Moshood Abiola!
Let this tongue cry for Yar’adua! Let this tongue cry for Saro-Wiwa!
Let this tongue cry for Kubirat and Bola Ige!
Let me cry out to the earth for the blood that,
like a rainbow, now paints colours in our bloody skies -

Like Wole Soyinka,
Let me be the prisoner
Scribbling poems with tears of sacrifice in these walls of despair.
Let me be Nelson Mandela jailed in the shadows
where deceitful suns blind the eyes of dreamers but not the vision.
Let me gather rain from the anguish of the lightning
and the terror of the thunder, the marauding madness of the wind
and the horror of the darkened clouds,
with a voice of my own…

(III)

as balloons are blown to the sky to make yet another merry on May 29
I hear drums rumbling without dances. Rainbow blood of those whose hearts
were silenced in the shadows of the night
now painting colours in our democratic skies.

Those who quenched the sun when its rays flickered with hope
have become the new messiahs
of our numbered days.

»May 29 is selected from Senator Ihenyen’s Colourless Rainbow, Coast2Coast, 2011, 89. It was first read by the author as the Guest Writer for the month of May at the Abuja Writers’ Forum (AWF) in 2011.«

May 27

Children’s Day
our innocence is still missing
Costus Spectabilis
lost of our yellow flowers to Sambisa Forest

#BringBackOurGirls#
We cry out in hashtags
Our gathering anger flooding the streets
Some say we sold our tears
Others cry sabotage.

Along two white lines
Divided we die
Across the black shield
River Niger, River Benue
rivers of tears
Fertile soil turn fertile ashes

In this myopia
the eagle is on errands
And stray like street dogs with no dignity
there go our two horses -
Coat of Arms for a coat of the Chief of Arms

Wonder why whenever the eagle returns
After yet another attack so vile and vengeful
It is mistaken for a vulture?

(C)SenatorIhenyen2014

Screensavers

In my arms,
finger-dances on your Qwerty keys
In your eyes, your love for me
Blinking like cursor

Dredges of thoughts
Memories of us sweeten your nectars
Flowers of fondness powdered with pollens.
Fluttery feelings. Tickling tenderness. Waking wings.
The Pollination of longings. Whispers in the wind.

In distance’s drags,
Loneliness. Emptiness.
Intruded, screensavers of meandering memories.

When I’m away,
How can I keep the imaginations
of me on your Windows 7,
sending sensations to your soul like screensavers?

(c)SenatorIhenyen2014

Valentine’s Day: Two Love Poems

valentines

Two love poems for Valentine’s Day. Have a great read.

“Dance of the Spirits”

Your kiss delights my heart
Meeting of our lips of love…
Energy,
Atoms in the altitude atmosphere
High, so high
Like thermosphere

Magnet in your touches
Solar wind rushing with your shivering breath,

Climbing gasps
In your magnetic storms

My aurora zone expanding to lower latitudes
Like that diffuse aurora on a glow
Invisible to the naked eye
Even in the darkest of nights

Our love is not empty of meaning
Discrete
Our love colours the night
Lightening the pathways of even the blind
Our love,
Like paintbrushes of the sun and the rain,
Rainbow kisses on the canvas of the sky
Heaven’s collection

I will love you, you will love me
Like the Aurora Borealis
Greenish glow, faint red,
Magnetic line
Fluorescent green
Our love
“Dance of the spirits”


Because I Love You (Hanging Gardens of Babylon)

How can they find the hanging gardens of our love
If with the wider wisdom of the world
They do not know where heaven is?

For the nostalgia and longing for your homeland
The green hills and valleys that knew you,
Meadows of your mountains away from my presence,
I will make in my heart, a home for your wanderings.

High walks, stone pillars
Pensile paradise planted in the palace of my dwellings,
Four plethoras on each side of my heart
Artifice of your Media greens
Hillside slopes, ascending terraces,
Galleries that held every weight of this garden
Rising little by little,
Undulating ascension along the parts To the pinnacle
Cubits high, meeting the circuit walls,
Bearer of the highest point of my love in this garden of love
Hanging in my heart for you,
Home away from home
Meandering like Media meadows on gathering mountains.

Of high walls against envious encroaches,
Far and near
Of this wide passage-way,
Pushing walls apart
Entrance for your willing love,
For your climbing doubts, exit

Layer of reeds
Bitumen above these beams
Our love, our fondness
Brick-bonded Layer of lead
Shield against the moistures.
Within, piled to the depth of my heart,
The earth is womb to the greens,
And out here
With trees atop the galleries in the garden
Green graces of every kind
Beauty is in the eye of the beheld – Forsake the beholder.

Hush, my love
Love is for two

Let the eyes of the earth behold our perfection too.
Between us
The openings in our hearts
Will remain rivers –
Sometimes from the abundance of secret kisses,
The rivers of love when you’re speechless
Floodgates of joy when love is unending
And sometimes, the broken flows of secret tears
Where this hanging garden of our love
Drinks from its springs
Fountains of freshness
Waterfalls

‘Dance of the Spirits’ and’Because I Love You (Hanging Gardens of Babylon)’ are selected from Senator Ihenyen’s new collection of poems, ‘Stranger in the Mirror of My Life: Poems for Everyone Affected by HIV/AIDS’, an ebook released in December 1, 20to mark World AIDS Day.

You can buy thee ebook at http://ysghubs.com/w/book/show/61-Stranger for 474 naira (5% slash from 500 naira), or also internationally available at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Strangerinthemirrorofmylife for $3.75.

Saturday Sun: A Review of Senator Ihenyen’s ‘Stranger in the Mirror of My Life’ by Osamede Osunde

Poems for Everyone Affected by HIV/AIDS

Poems for Everyone Affected by HIV/AIDS

Title: Stranger in the Mirror of My Life: Poems for Everyone Affected by HIV/AIDS
Author: Senator Ihenyen
Genre: Poetry
Publisher: Lulu
ISBN: 978-1-304-64806-8
Number of Pages: 93
Publication date: November, 2013

“Stranger in the Mirror of My Life” is a collection of poems about the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which tend to differ from the general norm essentially in terms of concept. In arranging the themes, the motive is to estrange the anthology away from the customary settings of periods and styles, to that of experiences and phases in the reality of the matter. Although the former is natural and valid, the latter guides the reader to a sense of awareness for those affected by HIV/AIDS and a feeling of compassion for those infected with the virus. The book offers a unique perspective to the campaign for HIV/AIDS awareness, control, and or eradication.

Poetry like every other form of art is a formidable and veritable tool for social mobilisation, emancipation and awareness. Over the years, from the era of great poets like Alexander Pope, Clare, Shakespeare, to more contemporary poets like Wole Soyinka, Denis Brutus, Chinua Achebe and a host of others, poetry has being used as an instrument of moral justice and societal upliftment. In this epic lineage of gifted literary scholars the world over, comes the erudite young Nigerian writer/poet, lawyer per excellence. Senator Ihenyen, as named at birth holds the view that with regards to the HIV/AIDS scourge, the cure that the world seek is hidden in the heart of mankind and that cure is love. “Stranger in the Mirror of My Life” is a clarion call to the human race for compassion and empathy in dealing with the epidemic facing humanity.

Up until the early 1980s, little or nothing was known globally about HIV/AIDS. Silent, yet ravaging infection- was the dominant feature in the earliest advent of the virus, owing to the fact that human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was alien to the global community and its transmission was not followed by visibly noticeable signs and symptoms. However, prior to the 1970s, in rare cases, reports of AIDS alongside sero-archaeological studies have documented instances of the infection in humans. Available records tend to suggest that the HIV/AIDS pandemic had began in the mid to late 1970s. The early 1980s saw the rapid spread of HIV to about five continents which included: North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Australia. The spread continued due to lack of awareness and preventive measures, approximately 100,000-300,000 persons were infected at the time.
In the past three decades since the first cases of HIV/AIDS were reported, the figures have increased astronomically and global impact of the scourge has being alarming most especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

Global statistics showed that in 2011, worldwide figure of people living with HIV was estimated at 34 million, two-third of this figure was domiciled in the sub-Saharan African region. Significant discoveries have being made in medical research in the area of HIV/AIDS treatment and control. A cure has not being found yet. The introduction of antiretroviral therapy has greatly helped in reducing the number of AIDS-related deaths, especially in the last five years. However, the occurrence of new infections is still an enormous challenge the world over. Sub-Saharan Africa has seventy two percent of the world’s total population of people living with HIV, although the region has a little more than twelve percent of the world’s population. The epidemic has caused a colossal amount of suffering in the African continent. The most palpable effect of this global scourge has been illness and death, but the impingement of the pandemic has stretched across all spheres of life including economy, social capital and population structure and so on.

The extent of spread of human immunodeficiency virus has surpassed all expectations in the last two decades. Presently, an estimated 36 million people are currently infected with HIV, around the region of 20 million people have so far died from AIDS related illnesses, worst hit is indeed sub-Saharan Africa. Responding to HIV/AIDS at a level proportionate to the stupendous impact of the scourge is an urgent global imperative, sustained global mobilization is a sine qua non to combat one of the most severe crises facing human development. “Stranger in the Mirror of My Life” is a commitment to this global effort.

Stigmatisation, discrimination, alienation and antipathy are some of the societal ills that have made life extremely difficult for people living with HIV. The animosity in the chore of mankind against people living with HIV is stronger and even more infectious than the virus itself. Quoting from Senator Ihenyen’s poem titled “In a Free Fall”:

Why have you suddenly become
The virus
Ravaging the blood of my love for you
In my breaking heart

The expression above tends to suggest that the rejection faced by HIV positive people may be even more challenging than the infection itself. Misconception, ignorance and pre-conceived notions has been the bane of this pandemic, in typical human characteristics, what defiles understanding is ascribed religious and spiritual pigmentation. Quoting from the poem titled “I am HIV-AIDS” by the African poet Simon M. Matlou:

Saint Luke predicted me long time ago,
While the Book of Revelation warned you about me
I am raging like a wild fire,
I am growling like a lion,
I have spotted you and I will pounce on you!
I am HIV/AIDS!

Views like this and even more extremist views have complicated even further the HIV/AIDS challenge, labeling the infection a plague from a supernatural power will unjustly indict and victimize those who are infected. HIV/AIDS is clearly a global health challenge and any religious coloration, segregation, sectionalization and regionalization will lead the world to a Pandora’s Box. Without attempting to sound mythical, the panacea or catholicon to this nemesis is universal love. The hate virus has eaten deep into the fabric of mankind, perhaps, someday, the world shall witness a paradoxical twist when this HIV challenge that we all face becomes a catalyst for engendering global peace and universal love.

Like earlier mentioned, stigmatisation resulting from ignorance and prejudice has being one of the most challenging issues faced by people living with HIV, the fear of stigmatisation is one of the major reasons why a lot of people refuse to perform HIV test, a number of people living with HIV, for reasons of victimization and stigmatisation fail to come out in the open to seek help. “Stranger in the Mirror of My Life” is a conscious effort to inspire confidence and courage in people living with HIV to come out boldly in the sun set to face the challenges confronting their existence.

“Stranger in the Mirror of My Life” cuts across its readers as a delicate voice, with sober and poignant views often cryptical in nature. In x-raying this verse from the poem titled “Once upon a Simple Question” by Senator Ihenyen:

If there was no blood running in my veins
How would you be taking my life away from me now?

The expression above bears more depth beyond the immediate perception, perhaps something for the scientist and researchers to ponder upon, whereas, on the face-value, the expression suggests the lamentation of a dying victim.
An obviously conspicuous attribute of the poet like most African writers is his occidental indulgence as well as his Mallarme influence strongly represented in the poet’s persistent use of symbolism, a concept that is tentatively labelled in the African literary parlance as ‘animism”. However, as Prof. Soyinka would say, “A distinct quality in all great poets does exercise a ghostly influence in other writers”, reading the works of Senator Ihenyen does calls to mind the works of great African love poets like Denis Brutus who wrote such raw and passionate lines of love as well as of indictment, conveying the concepts of fundamental justice, indicting the society of outer defiance, preaching hope and resolve all in one breath.

History, the contemporary reality and the vision of an HIV free generation is the overriding interest of this collection, in introducing “Stranger in the Mirror of my Life” to readers across the globe, I would like to say that it is indeed a compendium and a companion for all people living with HIV and the rest of the world.
Osamede Osunde
Chief Editor-
Pen Aesthetics lit. Agency

First published on the Saturday Sun, January 11, 2013.

‘Stranger in the Mirror of My Life: Poems for Everyone Affected by HIV/AIDS’ is now selling in Nigeria at http://
http://www.ysghubs.com/w/book/show/61-Stranger for 474 naira (5% slash from 500 naira) this December. It is also internationally available at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Strangerinthemirrorofmylife for $3.75 only!

The War of Words: On Gay Rights, and the Rest of Us

gay-nigerians

After the responses a post on my Facebook wall on gay rights in Nigeria had generated recently, I decided to publish it on my blog. This is not uninformed by the ongoing debate on this issue, with reactions and counter-reactions. Reprinted below is what represents my personal opinion about the gay issue. For my fans and followers who had love to see this in verse, I guess you will have to wait a little longer!

…………………………………………..

All these war of words between the pro-gay and the anti-gay! The pro-gay advocates that gay right is human rights, and in a democratic society, it must be protected and recognised. On their part, they have a point to the extent that to criminalise gay practise and marriage is to deny gays the right to private and family life. Be it a sexual or marital relationship between men; or one between women. They have also said that gay practice is a private matter which the state should not be concerned with, thus criminalising it is wrong. And the US is a ready example as to how modern Nigeria should be like.

On the other hand, we have those who are against it. On their part, they rest their argument mainly on morality. Gay practice is against nature and even God’s commandments, they say. Embracing it is a rebellion against God. It is a sin. It is unholy and unclean. It is indecent and immoral. God turned against Sodom and Gomorrah for this same reason, they say. And many more equally believe it is un-African. Against our culture. Although homosexualism may have been practised by some African cultures, those against it believe that it would be a sweeping generalisation to conclude that this is common with all cultures in Africa.

While the pro-gay think the other side is just being uncivil and hypocritic, the anti-gay say the pro-gay is a victim of western influence who is to be sympathised with.

My problem is this, there is so much display of intolerance on both sides of the divide. It’s just too intolerant of us all degenerating into something less ourselves. Let’s demonstrate some appreciable level of tolerance and understanding.

In every democratic society, there is no state religion. Although, the people in the state, mostly, have one religion or the other. But the state is not to adopt any. The consequence of this is that no matter how good or moral or holy a religious tenet is, the state cannot adopt it as being generally applicable to all.

In the workings of the state, morality is relative. It is not universally accepted. What is morally wrong in a particular place may not be morally wrong in another. The law enforces morality, but not all aspects of morality. There is no law, for instance, against disrespecting one’s parents, yet it is immoral in many cultures. As the state grows, it however begins to accommodate certain things which hitherto were seen as unacceptable, but not without certain restrictions to at least balance private rights with public morality. There is nothing wrong with some states in the US legalising gay marriage, if the democratic culture and times favour it. The state, ideally, should have no God, otherwise it risks adopting a religion. The state is seen as a creation of law, not of God, and the law a creation of consensus, not itself. That’s the stage these countries have reached. To have more freedom, they must necessarily kill the idea of God-religion. Human freedom dictates at all times. But the question is: as Nigerians, have we gotten to that stage where we can kill our God-religion, our various cultural moralities, our Christian, Islamic and traditional beliefs, and embrace the full evolution of human rights in both our private and public life?

It needs no answer. If we were ready, there wouldn’t have been a louder noise against it in the country. And there is nothing morally wrong or right about the GEJ administration signing into law a bill against gay marriage and gay rights. It is a matter of the relativity of morality. And in Nigeria, not the US, the democratic culture is yet to mature to the same level as that which operates in the west. Also, the time is not ripe, just as the time was not ripe in the US some years ago.

Morality is relative, just as opinions are divergent. The Nigerian jurisdiction is simply not ready to embrace it. Yet. It doesn’t mean Nigerians are uncivil, undemocratic, hypocritic or ‘uneducated’. It is just a matter of time and place.

Now Out: My New Book, Stranger in the Mirror of My Life, is now out!

Poems for Everyone Affected by HIV/AIDS

Poems for Everyone Affected by HIV/AIDS

Yes, finally, ahead of World Aids Day on December 1 this year, my new collection of poems – Stranger in the Mirror of My Life – predominantly centred on HIV/AIDS is now out!

Below is a brief description of the book in my online bookstore:

Stranger in the Mirror of My Life contains poems for everyone affected by HIV/AIDS around the world. In this collection, you will hear your own voice, feel your own tears. But beyond these, HIV positive or negative, you will discover that mirror, helping you rediscover life, hope and dreams in ways profound.

Senator Ihenyen holds the view that with regards to the HIV/AIDS scourge, the cure that the world seeks is hidden in the heart of mankind and that cure is love. Stranger in the Mirror of My Life is a clarion call to the human race for compassion and empathy in dealing with the epidemic facing humanity.
History, the contemporary reality and the vision of an HIV-free generation is the overriding interest of this collection. Stranger in the Mirror of My Life can be described as a moving compendium and a companion for all people living with HIV and the rest of the world.”

To buy the ePub format of the collection of poems, simply click here! It’s $3.75
only!

The ebook is now also available to readers locally at YSG ebookstore in Nigeria for the list price of 500 naira only (but now selling 474 naira 5% slash!)

This book is specially dedicated to all the people living with HIV/AIDS in Africa and around the world.

Ready for Release: Stranger in the Mirror of My Life: Poems for Everyone Affected by HIV/AIDS by Senator Ihenyen

UPDATE NOVEMBER 24, 2013:

Stranger in the Mirror of My Life: Poems for Everyone Affected by HIV/AIDS is now out! To buy the book, simply click the linked title above, or go to the online bookstore directly!

Red Ribbon

“Stranger in the Mirror of My Life” is an attempt to capture essentially the socio-psychological colourations, factors and effects of living with HIV/AIDS, and how they affect the way we live – whether positive or negative. I’m literally putting the mirror before the faces of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) to help them see the man in the mirror and say:

“I’m HIV positive. I’m no stranger to myself. I’m no stranger to the world. This is my body. This is my life. And I’m in charge!”

The words above is the opening lines in the preface of my forthcoming collection of poems on HIV/AIDS, “Stranger in the Mirror”. It is now finally ready for release this month – ahead of this year’s World AIDS Day.

Stranger in the Mirror of My Life: Poems for Everyone Affected by HIV/AIDS is going to be available on Amazon.com as an ebook.

If you had love to be the first to know as soon as the new collection of poems is released this month, you can simply indicate by filling the form below, with a message. I will be happy to send you a link on how to get the book as soon as it is released.

Let me use this medium to thank everyone – family, friends, fans and followers – for all the inspiring words and encouragement all over the years since I started this Poetry on HIV/AIDS project! It is specially dedicated to everyone living with HIV/AIDS.

You’ve been waiting for this a long time…here it is now…at your fingertips in just a few days from now! Please help me share this post with your contacts. This ebook is for everyone.

Senator Ihenyen
Author, Stranger in the Mirror of My Life: Poems for Everyone Affected by HIV/AIDS