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.

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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.

In Whose Name?

Safe sex
Saves not the soul
Says the moralist.

We let a million condom bloom
No one knows if it ends up in the right hands
Trash cans, backs of drawers,
Balloons blown in Kindergarten.

In a time of crises
Between rightness and safety
The world lives in two extremes
.

Unleashed from the God of justice
Deaths from this dreadful disease
They say, are destined for us all

And in the deific worship
of the god of tube of rubber,
Man scampers for safety…

damn the soul

This poem, “In Whose Name?” is selected from my unpublished work, “Stranger in the Mirror of My Life & Other Pieces”, predominantly centered on HIV/AIDS

Back from the Brink

Living in deadly denial for years unending
After years of getting a ravaging result
AIDS CD4g 60
Viral load –
300,000

Times of terrible thrush
Weightless on wet sheets
Sodden with night sweats and spiking fevers
Killing fatigue and dead appetite all day long.

Alone, unloved.
My back against the whole world
Locked-up in a closet
I had nothing to give to life
And life –

Vengeful and unforgiving –
had nothing to give back to me.

With me death had scores to settle
Every day and night
Staring into my eyes
Sicker and sicker I got
And in its cold stare,
soon my fear froze into a cave of coldness
Courage to face the coming hopelessness alone –
Die a brave death.

In one moment, of everything
So suddenly, I lost control
Crying out like a child,
I lost my grip of me
and the tears I let go
Flowing down my eyes –
Unrestrained.
I had lost control of my life
My entire life
And to the love of my life, I let it out
Everything I let go.

Headed to the end of the road,
That had to be the day I took control
Complete control of the wheel of my life.
The same road I now travel
Taking routes even many immune men would never dare.

And that had to be the day I took my life back
When I let it out to the love of my life
And discovered so much I had to give to life.
And life – the same life that had haunted me for a decade
Had so much to give back to me,
Bringing me back from the brink.

(c)Senator Ihenyen 2012

“Back from the Brink” is selected from “Stranger in the Mirror of My Life and Other Pieces”, a forthcoming collection of poems predominantly centred on HIV/AIDS by Senator Ihenyen.

River of Voices (for Chinua Achebe)

This poem, River of Voices, was written sometime in 2005. Published in my collection of poetry, Colourless Rainbow, I wish to dedicate it to the Father of modern African literature, Late Chinua Achebe, who to my delight, was also a poet himself.

I have specially dedicated this poem to him because having died unfulfilled as a Nigerian citizen, the eventual disillusion expressed in River of Voices seem to portray the picture of that feeling of unfulfillment on his part.

I hope you will find it engaging!

RIVER OF VOICES

I saw
the rays of the sun
beaming,
as I watched
by the riverside.

I saw
the drops of rain
splashing,
as I watched
by the riverside,

and I saw
the rays of the sun
kissing the raindrops,
as I watched
by the riverside.

I saw
colours of the rainbow
in the sky
rising,
as I watched
by the riverside.

But I saw no reflection
of these colours on the rippling river –
as I wondered
by the riverside

Throwing a probing stone,
I see ripples –
ripples of voices rising on the river –
Clamouring,
troubled tides rushing to my feet,
as I waited
by the riverside –

disillusioned.

(“River of Voices“ selected from Colourless Rainbow, Coast2Coast, Lagos, p. 104)

Senator Ihenyen: Chinua Achebe Died Unfulfilled

Chinua Achebe, the Father of Modern African Literature is gone. I find it very saddening. Not because dying at the age of 82 as an accomplished author is not worth a celebration of life. Not at all. It is a sad event because though an accomplished iconic novelist celebrated worldwide, the late Chinua Achebe died unfulfilled.

It is that feeling of unfulfillment that brings one down when things fall apart and the falcon no longer hears the falconer. It is that feeling of unfulfillment that kills you slowly when you are no longer at ease with the state of your own country, wherever you are. It is that kind of feeling that makes you reject national honours from the government of your own country because you had the courage to stand for what is right.

In a country like Nigeria where anthills of corruption have taken over our lands, and there is no longer a man of the people, vision dies. In a country where shameless leaders grant pardons to corrupt ex-convicts, corruption begets corruption. A promised breath of “fresh air“ becomes national poison. In a country like ours where our leaders accuse us of “sophisticated ignorance“ in its demonic desperation to justify its sophisticated myopia, where lies our hope?

The death of Chinua Achebe is painful. Very painful. Especially at this time in our national life when we need men of integrity and conviction. And that must be why I find Wole Soyinka and J.P. Clark‘s recent tribute to the late Chinua Achebe very moving. The two literary giants did not fail to find a strong nexus between his unfulfilled life as a Nigerian, and the failing state of our country, Nigeria.

Although his own words have immortalised him, we all owe Chinua Achebe a debt. That debt is to begin to rebuild all things that have fallen apart with the honour, integrity and conviction for which he was known in his lifetime. Chinua Achebe‘s integrity and conviction had always moved me, as it did in a recent interview:

http://blueprintng.com/2013/03/writers-cant-stop-talking-about-the-colossus/

New Book on HIV/AIDS Poetry Now Ready for Release!

“Stranger in the Mirror of My Life and Other Pieces“, a volume of poetry centred on HIV/AIDS has been successfully completed. The project which I started in 2005 on the HIV/AIDS pandemic will be ready for release in the second quarter of this year in ebook format.

Published by
Metamorphoses Publishing, “Shadow in the Mirror of My Life and Other Pieces“ is going to be first available for sale in Nigeria from my blog, http://www.senatorihenyen.wordpress.com in the early part of the second quarter of the year. Worldwide ebook distribution on all the major ebook stores like Amazon Kindle, Apple iBookstoresf, Nook and Kobo will be in place in the second quarter of the year.

For all my fans, followers and friends who have been expressing interest in getting the ebook, please simply subscribe to my blog now. You‘ll be the first to know immediately it is released.

And if you are a book blogger or literary journalist, and would like to have a free review copy of “Shadow in the Mirror of My Life and Other Pieces“, you‘re welcome to contact me! Just visit my contact page and let me know how you would like to receive your free review copy.

Coming after two years of releasing “Colourless Rainbow“ from the stables of Coast2Coast, Lagos, I must say I‘m very excited about this new work. As a new writer in a challenging genre, the reception I‘ve enjoyed from the readers of “Colourless Rainbow“ has been very encouraging! But given the international dimension of my experiences over the years in my research in HIV/AIDS and the versification of these experiences, I must say that I greatly look forward to putting this new book in your hands.

“Shadow in the Mirror of My Life and Other Pieces“ predominantly represents the faces behind the figures, the voices behind the silence, the shadow in the mirror of our lives in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

My new book is not a cure for AIDS, but hopefully, its pages are mirrors through which we can see the stranger inside and re-enchant ourselves in someway.

Dedicated to PLWHA out there!

Like the Very First Day at the Railway Crossroad

Whenever I look into your eyes

I discover how long you’ve been staring silently at me

From your sickbed

As I sat beside you seeming

lost in empty space

with your right hand clasped into mine

I could tell what worries weighed you down

What hopelessness held your heart

In this haze of uncertainties,

wondering if the hand you now hold so tightly

would ever let go.

How can I ever forget you in this moment of your life

When I cannot stop remembering what you mean to me?

As incurable as the virus holding your other hand

My love for you holds on to the other

And beyond this, hold on to your heart

To give life the meaning we have both known over the years

Together in the bliss of life’s beauty

Hidden in hate, but visible in love.

If this is not more than a disease,

Let our love be the vaccine fighting it off together

Giving us the chance to rediscover the treasures

And cherish every moment from now in the coming re-enchantment

Such re-enchantment like falling in love with you, Elizabeth

All over again like the very first time

When two strangers met at the crossroad along the railway

but hand-in-hand

we got to the other side as lovers

and have never looked back, just like trains never go backwards.

“I love you, Lizzy”, I whispered to her.

We’re in this train together,

Because watching you leave

while I wave goodbye with tear-filled smiles from the train station

is only one choice.

But who needs one choice to live

When many times the colours of your love

Paint rainbow of choices on the canvass of our lives
Giving life more meaning
in moments too memorable to forget,
“I love you too, sweetheart.”

And her smiles burst into a soft-sounding chuckle
Like the very first day at the railway crossroad.

What If it’s the Way We Love?

What If it’s the Way We Love? is specially dedicated to all the people living with HIV/ AIDS (PLWHA) out there this yuletide season. Selected from a work in progress, “Stranger the Mirror of M y Life and Other Pieces”, I dared to ask all of us: what If it’s the Way We Love? in our quest to save humanity from itself. Or what do you think?

 

what if this scourge

this pandemic, this plague

wiping out our race

from the face of earth

without a face

 

was just a thing?

 

A thing seeping through the open sores

of the way we love, sores of the way we make love,

treat love, desire love, the way we show and share love

the way we name love?

Just a thing seeping through the open sores

of the way we push and test love,

the way we tempt love, open sores of the way we kill love

the way we forget love?

 

What if it is just that thing

seeping through the open sores

of the way we sell love,

compromise love, the way we treat love and shame love,

the way we touch love, sacrifice love

or sometimes,

a thing seeping through the open sores

of the way we prove love

when between two

there are doubts.

Just the way we hold on to love

when it’s no more there,

the way we fight for love, stay for love

when love is lost.

The way we wait for love

when love is gone,

the way we live for love

when love is dead?

 

What if this scourge

this pandemic, this plague

wiping out our race

from the face of earth

without a face

was just a thing?

 

What if it’s the way we love?

what if this scourge

this pandemic, this plague

wiping out our race

from the face of earth

without a face

was just a thing?

 

A thing seeping through the open sores

of the way we love, sores of the way we make love,

treat love, desire love, the way we show and share love

the way we name love?

Just a thing seeping through the open sores

of the way we push and test love,

the way we tempt love, open sores of the way we kill love

the way we forget love?

What if it is just that thing

seeping through the open sores

of the way we sell love,

compromise love, the way we treat love and shame love,

the way we touch love, sacrifice love

or sometimes,

a thing seeping through the open sores

of the way we prove love

when between two

there are doubts.

Just the way we hold on to love

when it’s no more there,

the way we fight for love, stay for love

when love is lost.

The way we wait for love

when love is gone,

the way we live for love

when love is dead?

 

What if this scourge

this pandemic, this plague

wiping out our race

from the face of earth

without a face

was just a thing?

 

What if it’s the way we love?

what if this scourge

this pandemic, this plague

wiping out our race

from the face of earth

without a face

was just a thing?

 

A thing seeping through the open sores

of the way we love, sores of the way we make love,

treat love, desire love, the way we show and share love

the way we name love?

Just a thing seeping through the open sores

of the way we push and test love,

the way we tempt love, open sores of the way we kill love

the way we forget love?

What if it is just that thing

seeping through the open sores

of the way we sell love,

compromise love, the way we treat love and shame love,

the way we touch love, sacrifice love

or sometimes,

a thing seeping through the open sores

of the way we prove love

when between two

there are doubts.

Just the way we hold on to love

when it’s no more there,

the way we fight for love, stay for love

when love is lost.

The way we wait for love

when love is gone,

the way we live for love

when love is dead?

 

What if this scourge

this pandemic, this plague

wiping out our race

from the face of earth

without a face

was just a thing?

 

What if it’s the way we love?

10 Poetry Writing Tips For Young and New Poets

Poetry Writing Tips

Poetry writing is a craft – an art or skill acquired with much time and effort. To help you get started, I will discuss very briefly some writing tips that can help you get that poem out of your mind unto the pages of your blank paper. As a practicing poet who enjoys writing poetry, and also having a deep interest in poetry as an academic study, my relative experience garnered over the years as a young writer may help you with any avoidable difficulties you might experience in creating poems

For the young and new poet who wants to develop and improve his craft, you will find these tips very handy. Of course, it is important to note that not all these tips will apply to any single individual. They are only general guidelines or ideas, not a list of must-do rules, Experience has shown me that rules can terribly hinder creativity and kill originality. Just use the ones that work for you, either as a student working on a poetry writing assignment, or a poet who hopes to become published in a book!

Tip 1: A Poem with Only 5 Great Lines should be 5 Lines Long

Every single word you use in your poem should be for a good reason. It must not just be there to satisfy the poetic urge in you, but to contribute indispensably to the overall meaning of the work. To write successful poems, you must be as economical and concise as possible, and a good way of avoiding the unhelpful waste of words in your poem is to….

Tip 2: try using everyday language

When you write, don’t try to sound like a poet by using every big word you can find in the dictionary! In poetry, we use everyday language, but in an extraordinary manner through seeing things in new ways. Remember, simplicity helps you communicate more effectively with your readers, but verbosity and obscurantism simply throw your readers into confusion. I have found, over the years, learnt that a great way you can avoid this amateurish sound-like-a-poet syndrome is that…

Tip 3: whenever you want to write poetry, never allow yourself to be too conscious about it

When you sit down to write, write at a time and place conducive for your creative mind. Write whatever comes to your mind since this is your first draft written at the “moment of creation”. This is why it is important that you free your mind as much as you can rather than trying to be too rational at this point. Of course, because your first draft is never going to be your final work, except you don’t want to be a writer, your imagination is fired up to a very high level. But to come up with the masterpiece you so much desire, this is where you get to the crucial stage of…

Tip 4: re-writing, re-writing and re-writing

You have just got the worst poem you have ever written in your life out on paper! Good, just what you need to write a masterpiece! Do not restrain yourself, else you will hinder your creativity and cut the wings of your imagination. A poem is rarely completed or perfected the first time. Even after publishing, some writers still feel one or two poems could have been better. In your first draft, you most probably have clichés here and there, with lots of pretentious diction. This is a good material that needs re-writing. Re-writing your poem over and over again is what the craft of poetry writing is really made of. So take another look at your poem and start editing. It is advised that once you have completed the initial draft of your poem, leave the piece for a few days or even over a week, after which you then come back to it with a fresh and unattached look. It is a great way of editing in the re-write stage!
If it must take 50 terrible poems before you can put together one great poem, the earlier you get started, the better for you, your work, and your readers. Often times, I have had to write a single poem having over 30 preceding generations spanning weeks or months! But to avoid a time wasting and energy sapping situation where you end up feeding a stillborn child (your poem) in the name of re-writing, you must always be prepared to…

Tip 5: free the work like a bird and let it go!

If it is worth anything, it will certainly fly back to you; but if it doesn’t return, just say ‘good riddance to bad rubbish!’ and start writing again. I cannot keep a count of a number of my first drafts that have completely found their way into the rubbish bin because I could not squeeze any creative juice out of it in the re-writing stage. So don’t be afraid to write a terrible poem – I am sure your greatest mentors, probably Leopold Senghor, Gabriel Okara, Wole Soyinka, J.P. Clark, Kofi Anyidoho, Niyi Osundare, mention them – have all written bad poems before painstakingly coming up with their great poetry! Letting bad poems go and starting an entirely new poem should not be too painful a thing to bear if you…

Tip 6: enjoy the writing experience!

Often, I have come across some writers who feel writing is a job that must be done within a specific time! Try seeing writing as a gift, hobby or passion, not as an exhaustive project with deadlines. Don’t get me wrong. As a writer, I take my writing very seriously and dedicate lots of time and energy to make it work, but not without setting a limit for myself so that I don’t hinder the smooth flow of creativity in me. If you get bored with your work while writing, it is most certain that your readers will be too bored with the piece you have created in boredom!
To help you enjoy the writing experience, I will give you an idea of what may be hindering the enjoyment and pleasure that poetry writing should provide: I have noticed that most poets who try to express themselves in a “language of the common man” so as to make their poetry accessible to a wider audience do not largely enjoy writing, compared to the writer who write first and foremost for his/her own creative expression. This is because while the former group would have to focus much more attention on the message in his work, the latter mainly focuses on the language. And in-between these two groups are those poets who are able to use imaginative languages that also communicate the intended meaning or message to the reader. Christopher Okigbo did not become one of the finest poets in Africa – nor did Wole Soyinka win the Nobel Laureate in 1986 – for writing in the “language of the common man”. Many writers who do rarely get the attention of critics whose job it is to essentially place writers’ language within established literary traditions and perhaps explore the themes – still in the context of the language used – rather than helping to pass messages to the people. Those who do so rarely get any attention, and if you ever get any attention, it is very likely to be the kind you won’t enjoy.
If you feel that your message is more important than the language, try using non-fictional means to get it across – articles for instance. After all, it is generally accepted that poetry does not sell! So if you must enjoy writing, use comparisons, inferences, and suggestions, such as similes, metaphors, personifications, symbolisms, allusions, alliterations, onomatopoeia, assonance (I am enjoying this already!) etc. It is when you enjoy the writing experience that you can simply…

Tip 7: write as often as you can

That is what I keep doing as a writer – always scribbling down something on sheets of paper, on my palms or in my phone’s notebook. This is why you should have a notebook at all times to enable you put your ideas down immediately they come to you often when you are not even thinking about it! Ideas go just as fast as they often come, like the beaming wings of fireflies in the dark. But rather than waiting for the next big idea in your closet and end up complaining about “writer’s block”,…

Tip 8: get yourself out in the street!

If you are stuck for ideas, carry a notebook anywhere you go and writer down your observations. Just keep your eyes and ears open so that you are always alert to any sense stimulators around you. Also, work out the time of the day when you are at your most creative moment. For many writers, it is the first thing in a fresh morning, or late at night when everything has gone to sleep with their daily demands. For me, I find that I am neither here nor there – night and day have become merged as far as writing is concerned. But count me out when it is too hot in the day, and too late in the night, except I am just typing my work, which also provide me the opportunity to take a mechanical look at what that Senator has written! But after getting ideas from the street, don’t commit creative suicide by sounding like one who just took a time-travel to the 16th century. So what you must do is…

Tip 9: forget about Shakespeare, carve your own voice!

When you sit down to write a poem, don’t bother your head about trying to sound like Shakespeare or any of the 16th century English poets for rhymes, rhythm and all that! This often chokes your creativity, especially if you are a beginner. What is much more important is to say what you want to say, and the free verse form is a nice way to start. Personally, I am not the poetry-must-rhyme-to-be-good-poetry type. Of the over 200 poems I have written over the years, I don’t think I have written up to five poems that rhyme!
Curiously though, when I started writing in my teenage years, I find that I enjoyed working with rhymes and sometimes even rhythm – and this is also true with many beginners – perhaps sound in poetry has a greater influence on us at a younger age, while content is more of the focus as we grow older. Partly, I think this was what Reeves was talking about when she said that poetry was popular with children because at that stage it was all sweet-sounding nursery rhymes, but as they grow older they begin to ask questions which border on the logic of content, which has now make poetry largely unpopular. Don’t get me wrong, I do not mean that only amateurs write poetry that rhymes, but trying to lay emphasis on how influential the sound of poetry can musically appeal to many. So if you must rhyme, do it nicely and effortlessly, even if lots of time and energy went into it. And whether you rhyme or not, if you ever start yawning tiredly without making any headway, just…

Tip 10: forget about it!

Sometimes, you try so hard to get to work but nothing comes out of it! For forget about writing for a while, and get on to something else. You can always get back to writing again when you are not so hardened up. For me, when a particular work begins to make me feel tired, I have since begun to accept it calmly because to me it is an automatic beep that tells me it is time to revisit another stubborn work that I had left earlier (maybe days ago) to finally reveal itself to me, or at least, get closer to the revelation. But for the student, please do not get your mind off the poem – to help you, you can have a deadline at the termination of which you must have come up with the poem you have been asked to write, most probably as an assignment from the classroom.


This article is an excerpt from a recently completed book, Complete Poetry: for Students and Writers written by the poet and author, Senator Ihenyen.