b a c k  
  • Annexes  
  ° Selected Poems :  

BEFORE YOU, mother Idoto*,
Naked I stand;
Before your watery presence,
A prodigal
Leaning on an oilbean,
Lost in your legend.
Under your power wait I
on barefoot,
watchman for the watchword
at Heavensgate;
out of the depths my cry:
give ear and hearken…

DARK WATERS of the beginning.
Rays, violet and short, piercing the gloom,
Foreshadow the fire that is dreamed of.
Rainbow on far side, arched like a boa bent to kill,
foreshadows the rain that is dreamed of.
Me to the orangey
Solitude invites,
A wagtail, to tell
The tangled-wood-tale;
A sunbird, to mourn
A mother on a spray.
Rain and sun in single combat;
On one leg standing,
In silence at the passage,
The young bird at the passage.

SILENT FACES at crossroads:
Festivity in black…
Faces of black like long black
column of ants,
behind the bell tower,
into the hot garden
where all roads meet:
festivity in black…
O Anna at the knobs of the panel oblong,
hear us at crossroads at the great hinges
where the players of loft pipe organs
rehearse old lovely fragments, alone-
strains of pressed orange leaves on pages,
bleach of the light of years held in leather:
For we are listening in cornfields
Among the wind players,
Listening to the wind leaning over
Its loveliest fragment…

* A village stream. The oilbean, the tortoise and the python are totems for her worship.


EYE OPEN on the sea,
eyes open, of the prodigal;
upward to heaven shoot
where stars will fall from.
Secret I have told into no ear,
save into a dughole, to hold, not to drown with –
Secret I have planted into beachsand
Now breaks
salt-white surf on the stones and me,
and lobsters and shells
in iodine smell-
maid of the salt-emptiness,
whose secret I have covered up with beachsand…
Shadow of rain over sunbeaten beach,
Shadow of rain over man with woman.

with the armpit-dazzle of a lioness,
she answers,
wearing white light about her;
and the waves escort her,
my lioness,
crowned with moonlight.
So brief her presence-
match-flare in wind's breath-
so brief with mirrors around me.
the waves distil her;
gold crop
sinking ungathered.
Watermaid of the salt-emptiness,
grown are the ears of the secret.

AND I WHO am here abandoned,
count the sand by wave lash abandoned,
count her blessing, my white queen.
But the spent sea reflects
from his mirrored visage
not my queen, a broken shadow.
So I who count in my island the moments,
count the hour which will bring
my lost queen with angels' ash in the wind.

THE STARS have departed,
the sky in monocle
surveys the world under
The stars have departed,
and I-where am I?
Stretch, stretch, O antennae,
to clutch at this hour,
fulfilling each moment in a
broken monody.


(with drum accompaniment)
AND THE HORN may now paw the air howling goodbye…
For the Eagles are now in sight:
Shadows in the horizon-
THE ROBBERS are here in black sudden steps of showers, of
THE EAGLES have come again,
The eagles rain down on us-
POLITICIANS are back in giant hidden steps of howitzers, of
THE EAGLES descend on us,
Bayonets and cannons-
THE ROBBERS descend on us to strip us of our laughter, of our
THE EAGLES have chosen their game,
Taken our concubines-
POLITICIANS are here in this iron dance of mortars, of

THE EAGLES are suddenly there,
New stars of iron dawn;
So let the horn paw the air howling goodbye…
O mother mother Earth, unbind me; let this be
my last testament; let this be
The ram's hidden wish to the sword the sword's
secret prayer to the scabbard-

THE ROBBERS are back in black hidden steps of detonators-
FOR BEYOND the blare of sirened afternoons, beyond
the motorcades;
Beyond the voices and days, the echoing highways; beyond
the latescence
Of our dissonant airs; through our curtained eyeballs,
through our shuttered sleep,
Onto our forgotten selves, onto our broken images;
beyond the barricades
Commandments and edicts, beyond the iron tables,
beyond the elephant's
Legendary patience, beyond his inviolable bronze
bust; beyond our crumbling towers-
BEYOND the iron path careering along the same beaten track-
THE GLIMPSE of a dream lies smouldering in a cave,
together with the mortally wounded birds.
Earth, unbind me; let me be the prodigal; let this be
the ram's ultimate prayer to the tether…

AN OLD STAR departs, leaves us here on the shore
Gazing heavenward for a new star approaching;
The new star appears, foreshadows its going
Before a going and coming that goes on forever…
  b a c k  
  © The Christopher Okigbo Foundation.  
The Christopher Okigbo Foundation website