Poet-Today ~ Ekweremadu Uchenna ~ The Arts-Muse Fair

Pic: Aminu S Muhammad


in the beginning there was music of
moaning and of a creaking bed

his lips quivered not with fever
but with minty words

her lids slid shut not in sleep
but in daydream

there was light from the mercury-vapoured lamp coating
the sparsely furnished room in
a blue film
in the beginning I was there on
that creation night crouching at the
edge of the room
as I watched the duo spin the potter’s
wheel mixing water and clay
moulding me into being


because you loved to sprawl
and roll on lawns 
to kiss the grasses’ fresh lips
and stroke their dewy limbs
I demurred when they made to box
you and to dump you six feet under the ground

I recalled the night we kissed by the campfire
just before you marched out to war
how your eyes glowed with the live coals
as though you desired a swim
in a lake of fire
till your cells fluoresced

no wonder
at the crematory 
just before you became an
urn of fine dust
I caught you smiling all through the process
like a lamb being offered to God

while your mates bid you farewell
with twenty-one toasts
and the grasses happily waltz
to the bugle’s sad moans
I spray you all over the back lawn
where you’ll forever be warmed by the sun


And in the beginning
we all snored in the dark
until Light
tore through the stained glass
illuminating our minds
in varying colours
and revealing the pathways
of stone and of bronze and of iron
it burned up the veil wrapping our minds
and separated us from ‘lower lives’
till we not only cared about antelopes to
capture and fruits to gather
but also cattle to keep
and crops to nurture

to some minds it gave the power
to read the lips of leaves
of roots
of barks
to tell those that heal from those that harm

some minds it armed with rain-making guns
to take aim at ripe clouds
and riddle them with a million rounds
whenever the sun made to scorch the world

some throats it fine-tuned
until their sounds could
spur weaklings to dare death
and melt iron hearts to tears

some fingers it cursed with the itch
to sculpt and to weave


as we grew in geometric progression
space and food became the first casualties

a game for the fittest soon turned anarchic
dipping the land in lechery and in blood
until the dark dust grew to a mushroom cloud
and shut out Light

the ensuant seism cracked heaven’s dam
which was already weakened by long disregard
and soon its floodgates yawned open
drowning the world in a deluge


The last surviving household
soon multiplied in a hundred fold
like a genetically modified seed
strewn on a virgin field

because the flood didn’t wash off the old curse
which Light had placed on us from the start
insatiateness and curiosity clung on
like tapeworms to our hearts

down eastward a scout found a field
where rocks gushed with milk and malt
where bees were too honey-laden to buzz
where sand grains could grow into hills


The lure of fame and glory
and the glint of immortality
and the dread of dispersion
drove us sunward

the hope of diving in the pool of Light
until our very cells fluoresce
fueled our courage
to conquer the fear of heights
and pile brick upon brick
upon brick

even though the sun scorched our backs
till they gleamed like burnished brass
even though we perspired drops of blood
panting like famished hunting dogs
we strengthened each other with smiles
as we piled brick upon brick
upon brick
until the blights came and warped our minds
throwing us into hysteria
and glossolalia

in a flick
our lofty dream vapourised
forcing us to disperse and explore new fields
in little groups of like-minds 

some said the plague was airborne
but most people blamed it on Light
which had panicked at our mutual bond
and our dare to strive for a higher stratum

(For Teresa Oyibo Ameh)

you who plant baskets of books
on virgin and fallow minds

virgin and fallow minds forsaken
by Family and State and
swarmed by thorns and weeds

what barn can hold
these loaves of bread
you’ve cast on many waters
when they float back to your shores tomorrow
swollen a hundred times over

you who rain shots of cold
water down parched throats

parched throats of feeble folk
plodding along life’s rocky path

what muzzle can muffle your censer
which steadily sends scents to heaven and
commends you to the throne of grace

Ekweremadu Uchenna writes from Kaduna, Nigeria. He has been long listed and shortlisted for a number of prizes including Erbacce Poetry Prize and RL Poetry Award. Some of his works have appeared in Transition, Jalada, Grub Street, Come Review, Imitation Fruit Journal, Saraba, Parousia and elsewhere.