Monthly Archives: May 2014

I KNOW WHO FREED THE CAGED BIRD
– ( FOR MARGUERITE [MAYA] ANGELOU)
I did not see Moses strike the Red Sea
I did not see the wand that ushered in the east wind
But should I feign ignorance of the guard of honour mounted by seawalls
for the newly freed?

When the scabbard winces at the scrape of the machete
Bearing the brunt of its two-edged fanaticism,
I would rather not trade places with the tethered ram!
I do not know if it was the cockerel that crowed up the dawn
Or the dawn that gave voice to the cockerel
But I know the source rock of celebrant springs
I know who untethered that bleating ram….

I did not feel the hands that undid the shackle
I did not see the manacler flee at the inscrutable smile of the manacled
But I know the wielder of the pen that refused to yield to pain
I know the one who waxes melodious even when chronicling grief.

I felt the scented newness of an unfolding petal
a Mandela-size spirit spreading like ripples across vast tides
I saw no blood, save that on your lintel
I heard no sound, save the flutter of escaping birds
But I knew whom the pantheon were welcoming with a toast of eagle feathers.

You always knew that All God’s Children Need Travelling Shoes
I don’t know how long you’ve had yours on.
I do not know if it was the cockerel that crowed up the dawn
Or the dawn that gave voice to the cockerel
But I know who untethered that bleating ram….
I know who freed the caged bird……

– Anaele Ihuoma

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I KNOW WHO FREED THE CAGED BIRD

I KNOW WHO FREED THE CAGED BIRD

  • ( FOR MARGUERITE  [MAYA] ANGELOU)

I did not see Moses strike the Red Sea

I  did not see the wand  that ushered in the east wind

But should I feign ignorance of the guard of honour mounted by seawalls

 for the newly freed?

 

When the scabbard  winces at the scrape of the machete

Bearing the brunt of its two-edged fanaticism,

I would rather not trade places with the tethered ram!

I do not know if it was the cockerel  that crowed up the dawn

Or the dawn that gave voice to the cockerel

But I know the source rock of celebrant  springs

 I know who untethered that bleating  ram….

 

I did not feel the hands that undid the shackle

I did not see the manacler flee at the inscrutable smile of  the manacled

But I know the wielder of the pen that refused to yield to pain

I know the one who waxes melodious even when  chronicling grief.

 

 I felt the scented newness of an unfolding petal

a  Mandela-size spirit spreading  like ripples across vast tides

I saw no blood, save that on your lintel

I heard no  sound, save the flutter of escaping birds

But I knew whom the pantheon were welcoming with a toast of eagle feathers.

 

You always knew that All God’s Children Need Travelling Shoes

I don’t know how long you’ve had yours on.

I do not know if it was the cockerel that crowed up the dawn

Or the dawn that gave voice to the cockerel

But I know who untethered that bleating  ram….

I know who freed the caged bird……

 

  • Anaele Ihuoma

I’M NOT ‘THE CHIBOK GIRLS’

 

I’m not ‘The Chibok girls’

I’m Aisha’s daughter, her  third child

Tomorrow is my birthday and I want chocolates

Not a photo op with men in manes,

Men with Kalashnikovs for walking sticks

 

 I’m not ‘The Chibok girls’

I’m a student

Savouring pages of vintage books

Swotting now to ease sweating, at testing times

I dominate the libraries like ‘matter’ –

‘anything that has weight and occupies space’, we’re taught

 

I eat the freedom pie

You need to see the outspoken countenance of once reticent reagents

on mounting the podium of my pipettes,

 Beakers,

And  round-bottom flasks.

 

I’m not ‘The Chibok girls’

I’m Luka’s twin sister

Raised by farm-hardened hands

I thirst for the taste

of his bragging breath

Mingled with our mum’s  praying sweat

I’m a schoolgirl

At home in giggling company –

Joan’s and Maryam’s and Hannah’s and Hannatu’s and Jummai’s and Grace’s –  

 

I’m a girl

I wear no toga

only my name tag

and – atimes –  a sanitary towel.

I’m not a bargaining chip

I’m not an index, some indicator

of bad governance or good governance or no governance!

 

I’m  not ‘The Chibok girls’

I’m a girl, not a chapter in history

I’m not someone’s defence shield

I’m not a tool in the gloved hands of a martyr-maker

Only the mouthpiece in a flute, my mum’s mirth-maker.

 

I’m no Pearl Habour

Not a trigger for a reprisal zinger.

I’m not someone’s prize:

What manner of conqueror gloats with a minor’s pubic heist?

I crave no place in folklore

But if I must enter it, it will be by my derring-do

Not that of hooded men

I shall not enter history from the pity page

I count my years as pedestals of dreams.

 

  • Anaele Ihuoma

I’M NOT ‘THE CHIBOK GIRLS’

I’M NOT ‘THE CHIBOK GIRLS’
I’m not ‘The Chibok girls’
I’m Aisha’s daughter, her third child
Tomorrow is my birthday and I want chocolates
Not a photo op with men in manes,
Men with Kalashnikovs for walking sticks

I’m not ‘The Chibok girls’
I’m a student
Savouring pages of vintage books
Swotting now to ease sweating, at testing times
I dominate the libraries like ‘matter’ –
‘anything that has weight and occupies space’, we’re taught

I eat the freedom pie
You need to see the outspoken countenance of once reticent reagents
on mounting the podium of my pipettes,
Beakers,
And round-bottom flasks.

I’m not ‘The Chibok girls’
I’m Luka’s twin sister
Raised by farm-hardened hands
I thirst for the taste
of his bragging breath
Mingled with our mum’s praying sweat
I’m a schoolgirl
At home in giggling company –
Joan’s and Maryam’s and Hannah’s and Hannatu’s and Jummai’s and Grace’s –

I’m a girl
I wear no toga
only my name tag
and – atimes – a sanitary towel.
I’m not a bargaining chip
I’m not an index, some indicator
of bad governance or good governance or no governance!

I’m not ‘The Chibok girls’
I’m a girl, not a chapter in history
I’m not someone’s defence shield
I’m not a tool in the gloved hands of a martyr-maker
Only the mouthpiece in a flute, my mum’s mirth-maker.

I’m no Pearl Habour
Nor a trigger for a reprisal zinger.
I’m not someone’s prize:
What manner of conqueror gloats with a minor’s pubic heist?
I crave no place in folklore
But if I must enter it, it will be by my derring-do
Not that of hooded men
I shall not enter history from the pity page
I count my years as pedestals of dreams.

– Anaele Ihuoma

I’M NOT ‘THE CHIBOK GIRLS’ I’m not ‘The Chibok girls’ I’m Aisha’s daughter, her third child Tomorrow is my birthday and I want chocolates Not a photo op with men in manes, Men with Kalashnikovs for walking sticks I’m not ‘The Chibok girls’ I’m a student Savouring pages of vintage books Swotting now to ease […]

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ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF FROZEN GRACIAS – Tribute to Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

 

  • Tribute to Gabriel Garcia Márquez, 1928 – 2014.

 

The closest thing to it – that firm-fingered salute –  was the barely three year old John Kennedy Jr’s heart-stopper to the flag-draped  coffin bearing the remains of his assassinated father, an honour that would imprison the imagination of America for years and build him a cult following larger than his iconic father’s.

But this salute, this four finger air slicer to the one in the bier, was not from fledgling carpals.  Neither could it have come before the invention of the turbo engine. No. Not even Colonel Aureliano Buendia could have mustered the power to unleash a 180 degree tornado through the limited space  between the right femur and right ear, and still manage to stop short of splitting that ear in a Kung-fu fury. Instead, arriving at the ear, the saluting set of fingers did a  series of  pendulumed swings before finally halting only a nano inch to it.

The Saluter must be a spirit to be able to carve out that kind of salute, the crowd agreed. And then they served  arroz con pollo in a Colombian dish. But nobody could touch it until they served  kola, also  in a Colombian vase.   Then Obando Bravo stepped up to pray the resident of the bier into eternity. It was in delicious Latin tenor, said to much applause, to the ignored protest of a small band of  mirth-makers who shouted that prayers over kola could only be said in Igbo. But the Liberation theologian told the dissenters that he was not praying over the kola, but for the soul of the one in the bier to reproduce itself in a million maestros. The kola itself turned out a seven-lobe cracking short at perfection, igniting what many thought was a smile from the one couched in the bier.    He lay there, dressed in Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevera fatigue.  Cotton wool-defying ears, eyes like meteorites suspended in midflight. 24 karat moustache  scouring the air for whiffs of vintage wine. He lay impervious to nectars and flowers hauled at him.

At last the kola was pieces-ed, and shared to the merrymakers. When the serving dish got to the Saluter, he remained still, in his salute pose. Like a cactus. ‘Have your kola, sir’. No movement. ‘Please sir’. No  movement. The crowd joined in the plea: ‘Eat your kola, sir. You cannot honour the one in the bier if you shun the kola on the day of his last respects.’ No ice.  So they buried their hero and went home to make more merry.

The next day those who had missed their flight arrived to write on the condolence book of the writer. The  man was still there, hand still in acute-angled salute, like Stalin’s top brass.  One week after, a young woman whose great grandfather had witnessed the 100 years of solitude came, with her flowers, to  pray him into the embrace of the Lord. She met the saluter. On the same spot. Same pose.

One full year later, a crowd of revelers  threw flowers shouting ‘Viva Gabo’, ‘Estimado amigo’. ‘Viva nuestro héroe’.  The saluter was still there, but he had turned to an anthill. A bird flew through the space between his saluting hand and torso, bearing a twig.

More birds joined, bringing twigs and diverse flowers, all yellow. And a cacophony of  raucous cries.  For 99 years. On the 100th year, a team of researchers arrived. The landscape had been clothed in yellow floral vestments.  There were no wreath layers. No women in long shawls intoning prayers. There was no anthill. In its place was now a concrete sculpture – a monument of unwavering salute to Gabo.

Anaele Ihuoma.