International Poetry الشعر শ্লোক ကဗျာ ליבע ਪਿਆਰ өлүм
African Poetry with editor Vera Ignatowitsch
The Last Singing Fruit Vendor
His big voice breathes out of the verandahs
hot cobbled streets and living room walls
breaking the songs of cool chats and fogs
from a fat quiet, it catches you
almost as if to say we are all
fools for playing the game.
The beats swing, swim and go away
like zebra calves startled by a gong
urgent to hurry to no place exactly.
He gives an invitation to hear a story
or buy a loaf of something gold to eat together
which invades the sun aired afternoon like the fingers
of Kudzu vines. In the clean light where his song reads
he tattoos a call to Mecca.
Heaving on the shoulders of a summer reflection
past the windows and gates and heat dazed faces
he advertises his slants: apple and pineapple
slices very neatly wrapped
sometimes mangoes or oranges
depending on the season.
He cuts them alone sometimes
in front of them if they ask.
The last silver guardian of the art
keeps giving wide handed gestures
wet and caramelized with smiles and eyes
and words that wind round and back again.
He gives them hell and heaven combined
But they don't run to him now
not with the fever they used to have
not on the same pilgrimage,
but there were some regulars, that kept him pleased.
They paid a few dues and soon they were tucked back
inside their kitchens and verandahs
apples cooling inside their fridges.
The murmur of their cool chats resumed
almost as if to say
we are all fools for playing the old game.
Michael Kang’a is a psychologist who keeps two pet pigeons (Mandy and Mindy) and a dog (Mikhail) who is also a pet. If kitchen gardens count, he's a prolific *sic* small-scale farmer.
A touch of yesterday,
A whiff from the yesteryears
Journeys through my nasal tunnel
On this warm afternoon
Of still breezes
And vacant heavens
With chirping sparrows
And fading sorrows.
Everything is the same.
Save the taunting crows
Whose cawing left
On those days of our animosity.
It is almost two years now
Since the bite from typhoid’s fangs
Made me commune with my Relatives of the blessed memories.
I swear! Death — much despised —
Is a patient man;
Not wanting the life of me . . . yet.
My life was desolate like the formless earth on which God's feet forlornly trod. Till
Your candle spotted wax and affixed itself
In my dark world, pushing darkness far behind the dimness.
But You died and my light is put out and darkness returns.
Now my eyes float like vessels on sorrow’s waters.
Baby, last night I had a dream: where you crawled up to me in bed planting a kiss here and caressing there, while I feigned being asleep and when you slid into me, I betrayed a moan — pleasure escaping my lips.
Your thrusts like fusillades of sweetness.
We climaxed simultaneously.
God! It was surreal. But some dreams exist to mock reality.
Sorrow and loneliness are bad company.
So the other day, I bought ratsbane and hemlock;
The former I will chew like a bite of our wedding cake,
While the latter I will gulp like wine,
Then wait in repose for our spirits to unite again in that timeless astral realm where there are no goodbyes . . .
Paschal Amuta writes from Ilorin, Kwara state, Nigeria. He is a biochemist upon whom the Muse has bestowed the ability to paint pictures with words. Wole Soyinka is his favorite writer. He goes by the moniker “Muse Son” on the Internet.
The 21st Century Man
Before I was born, I heard my father
Worked, and fed his wife, and she was happy.
He hunted, she cooked. She gave birth, he trained harder.
He ruled his home, and like a water lily
She blossomed, and groomed us to love the plain
Of life, and she sang us the songs of hope.
We ate and played and waved at the airplane.
Today I’m a man with a wife. I cope,
But what role I have as man I don’t know:
I read, she reads more; I work, she works more.
Bought her a car and she gave a curt nod—
She’s not laughing and happy like my mom!
Oh! How time has altered the things of life.
The man must learn the new rules of the wife.
Do not inhale the sooting hail of our land.
Our mother’s child has told us a story.
Blood or crude oil? Measured in countless cans
Through endless pipes, drained away our glory.
How fishermen wailed as thick coats of oil
Painted the seas brown: killed all the fishes!
Hear the farmer’s doleful songs! Oh, her soil!
But our mother’s child became the richest.
All the promises painted in the sky
Faded like the night at the smell of dawn.
See the land with only sun of our sons up high
And guiltless, but hanged on November tenth.
Oh! Ogoniland, will you ever be cleaned?
The men who played games left us in this gulf!
A World Without Care
I have seen in life, that the vilest of men
Will prune his garden and have it watered,
But exerts brute force on his fellow man
Conscripts their hearts with zeal unrivaled.
Makes statutes to guard Neptune’s floor, dale
And woodlands, wolves and the snapping twig,
And so the Alps are conserved day by day.
Yet to love a fellow man seems too big.
See how humanity lay in squalour.
In strife rent zones, many more died of famine
Than of guns. Why war if we can’t feed the poor?
If all the sciences poured into those blasts of flame
And harmful things yet to come were instead clothed
With love, the world would never be the same.
Uedum Bianu Yorkuri is a lawyer from Ogoni, in Nigeria. He has written many novels, a drama, short stories, and much poetry. This is his first publication.
Images of pollution in Ogoniland, an oil rich region of Nigeria. The Ogoni Nine were a group of nine activists from the Ogoni region of Nigeria who opposed the operating practices of the Royal Dutch Shell oil corporation. Their members included outspoken author and playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa, Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kiobel, and John Kpuine, who were executed by hanging in 1995 by the military dictatorship of General Sani Abacha and buried in Port Harcourt Cemetery.