Selected Poems from Colourless Rainbow: Poetry of My Childhood
These poems, divided into seven movements (The Mirror, Cameleons, Camoufladge, Images on the Breaking Walls of My Heart, The Masquerades, Crossroads and The Tide) are selected from the author’s collection of poems titled, ‘Colourless Rainbow: Poetry of My Childhood’, forthcoming from Coast2Caost, Lagos.
…the ink of this pen
splashes a song – not of the seduced screams that blazed
the soul of night under the moon,
melting melodies of dance so nostalgic –
but of our dying voices!
The ink of this pen splashes a song –
not of gods and goddesses, ancestral rituals and masquerades,
Not of gazelles that leapt to drink of blue waters
and hunters that brought elephants home on their heroic shoulders…
but a song of our blood
soaking the sun of hope and dream.
A song of the awakening drums of dawn
in this endless night of tears!
The ink of this pen
splashes a song of butterflies feeding on dunghills
and pigs grunting on petals! Ravaging rulers
fermenting our blood in their thirst for honey,
while the innocent feeds on ashes of burnt bones!
…if my pen pierces
like a spear and my letters stab your swollen pride,
then, let your boiling blood rise.
Let it rise, repainting this colourless rainbow
with the colours of our stubborn dream…
Countless cowries have been tossed and tossed
on countless shrines; countless kola-nuts broken and chewed;
countless gourds of palm-wine poured beneath palm fronds
to search out your place in the hands of destiny!
We have seen the magic of the moon
in your eyes, twinkling with silvery illumination of love.
Countless times, we have seen the milk of your breasts
flowing like palm-wine from the gourds of life.
And we have, countless times, heard the music of your heart
titillating with the thrills of tranquil nights.
Countless times, we have seen the light of your soul
glow like the fires from the pit of this calabash.
But tell us why widows lie with bereaved brooms
in the midnight? Tell us why only blood
gush from your black breasts when young lips
run with hungry-innocent eyes to your lap?
Tell us why we love to dance
to the disharmony of war drums?
Tell us! Tell us why we no longer hear drums of thunder
after flashes of lightning? And no rain
after dark clouds…Tell us!
…my pen shall bleed
the last drop of its dark blood,
through this labyrinth with solitary lamentations –
For I am lost in your images
as yet more cowries are tossed to unveil
the black face of my virgin bride
Whom I made love to in the moonlight
But found no blood on her white garment at dawn
I know your faces, splashed by threads of light against the shadowy
Walls of death! Those dark eyes staring at the spirit
of a struggling soul, held behind bars of brutality!
And do I not know your footsteps?
Those brutal boots that crunch aloud along the corridors of death!
Take my soul! Take my soul! Feed my flesh to the vultures!
Paint the rainbow with the colours of my blood!
Better for me to die like this than bow to your democratic subtleties!
This spirit shall blaze in your darkened dawn
like the fire of the sun. This voice shall be the cockcrow
Of your voiceless dawn. These splashing tears shall wash
away the stains still dripping from our wounded innocence.
Listen! Listen to the throb of my pulse
As it dances to the beats of a true dawn
Not born by tyranny. Not baptised with brutality.
Democaracy, not crucified by truth!
When We Cannot Tell
cannot tell butterflies
by their wings
cannot tell mosquitoes
by their buzz
…how can we know
the light of the sun
from the shadows of the night?
They promised to repaint rainbow on the bloodstained wings
of the butterflies they mutilated with their bullets and boots,
The dreams they blew off with bombs of greed into ashes of despair
Like the clichéd thieves in the night
They raged our hearts and stole our cherished dreams,
Leaving us without songs or laughter
They told us they had seen with their bloody eyes
A better tomorrow somewhere in the distant sky –
Their eyes of treachery so transparent of death.
Our voices unloaded the bullets of silence
Crying out for life in the pumping heart of June 12 –
It was their waterloo
In the dewy dawn of democracy
The vampires of the nights have become bees
Buzzing around the honeycombs of our sweetened struggles –
Baptising their monstrous heads with the redeeming grace
of our innocent blood
Our endless sweats…
It is now our waterloo
Images on the Breaking Walls of My Heart
memories of you
rise in the rainbow
in the sun…
Umbrella in the Rain
…when tears roll
down my heavy eyes
like torrents of rain from a cloudy sky,
with colours of love
you open up your heart to me
like an umbrella
unfolding in the rain
Masquerades, and the Masses
…masquerades dance through the drums of dawn
till the twinkle of twilight, weaving in the soul of night
to the mad melodies of mashed moonlight
Yet, no emissaries from the gods
Nor from the ancestors to the emaciated earth.
With no words of hope in their dazzling dance-steps
They weave in the wind; they toss and toss in turning wonders,
swirling and twirling with costumes of death
Splashing blood and tears
on the long-abused masses in the sidelines of silence.
When the dance is finally over
and the last buttocks have rippled away with the lustful wind
and the last laughter fades with the windy shadow
and heads lie hopeless in their huts
The masquerades need water to wash their faces –
But our wells are empty,
Our rivers dry, our calabash broken…
our lives mad with misery.
But like the anger of a defiled woman
our sorrow shall rise
with the blood of our stabbed hope and dream
Although now colourless,
Must we open our doors
To let the West come in
To take away our sun?
Although now colourless,
Must we open our doors
To let the East come in
To take away our rain?
Should we not close our doors
And with our sun and rain
And open our doors
For the world to buy our colours?
for rainbow in the sky,
but there is no sunlight
piercing through the
and I begin to wonder
where to find its colours –
colours of my heart, colours of my dreams,
In the emptiness,
I begin to understand
that if I could not look into the eyes
of the living around me
to see that the rainbow
gleams there too
I may never find the colours
to paint a better place
for you and me
A Peculiar Harmattan
…when the dust of harmattan begins to settle in the soul
and the haze in the horizon veils the eyes of the earth
I gnash my freezing teeth in the chilling wind
Wondering if this harmattan could dry these tears,
Like the wind blowing away the tides of purple-patched leaves
Dancing around with emptiness
Is it our despair that paint these leaves brown and yellow?
Our pain that leaves purple patches all over,
withering away in the dryness of this seedless season
of searing sorrows?
Surely, it is the leaves of our hope
That fall one
in the dust-dyed wind,
our hearts breaking apart
by crackling twigs…
And like shriveled trees shedding brown harmattan tears
Skeletons in tattered rags litter the dusty streets.
Soon, the December fires will burn dried dreams again
In this peculiar harmattan
If Only We Could See the Rainbow
I see the rainbow
rising in the horizon
As the enchanted eyes of earth
run to the hills
Wondering how many colours
it would take to paint our world
with such beauty
buy the book, “colourless rainbow”