Thursday, 16 December 2010


I went into my garden on
the last blue Moon
and found gnomes eating
waffles in the petunias;
they held clenched between
their toes several spoons
and shuvelled like gravellers
their tuck all peculiar.

Wiffleball bats
danced like flowers
and cursed at me
for lacking mental vigour;
my imagination, they held,
should be red devourer
with a dripping violence
and a hallucinating snigger.

These gnomes were perverse
as they ground all vile
against the wiffle-bat flowers
like imps drunk on lust:
their teeth were all spangley,
like piano teeth of crocodile,
and they guffawed aloud
like drunken gnomes must.

And in this confusion
I heard the kettle steam:
after the click,
the release of a cry.
If only this madness
were the kernel of a dream,
but I fear, dear reader,
this nonsense is mine.

Things fall apart.

for Chinua Achebe.

I sit in my obi
grinding my teeth,
handling my chin
sternly, firmly
as my wives people their huts.

They finally arrived:
the white devils,
the mad men.
They chant about a god
and his son -
he must have a wife, too.

They tell us our gods are false -
the Oracle, our chis,
Agbala, the earth goddess,
Amadiora, Ugwugwu, Evil Forest.

Slowly, they have destroyed us,
undermined us,
stolen from us
the minds of our children.

Our ancestors weep nightly
and the elders pray for them
to seek vengeance.

Inadvertently, things have fallen apart:
they have guns and iron horses.
They have disproved every tenet of our religion
and have replaced it
with their own,
which we cannot fathom.

The nine villages are fragments now.
The world, our world,
once so knowable
is alien to us.

They have cut through it,
through us,
through our lives.
Things fall apart.

There's always something new to say.

With each day,
write a poem:
there's always something new to say.

The old man in his
rubbery skin
and the child

the aye-aye
with his fingers thin
and the proboscis monkey's

the black man
with his story thin
because his richness
he does not know.

The white man
with his heart of gold,
the Oriental
with his smile;
the gentleman
with his walking stick
and flâneur sins beguiled.

The sunflower with its
droopy head:
the yellow of its mouth;
it catches sunbeams,
communes with light;
faces the south.

The kittens in their basket.
The laundry in the corner.
The old folks sitting, twitching.
The order of disorder:

repeats itself like an old joke
that always somehow rings true.
There's always something new to say, see?
Paint it red, yellow, blue.

The all-knowing mind.

One of the tragedies of
the all-knowing mind
is that it knows all,
but soon forgets to know
what's most important
is that brief flicker:

it knows what to do
in young age,
it knows what to expect;
but it hasn't the foresight
of age's hindsight.

All that our future selves
scream back to us
is lost in our living;
the prisons of seconds
are completely segregated.

The all-knowing mind
says, 'yes, old man:
I know what to expect;
I know what to do;
I know in what manner to live'.

And then it blanks out
the voice of that experience
for the experience of immediacy.
That is, until, something causes us
to gasp, to inhale
until we almost
choke on breath:

in that moment of discovery,
we learn the precious hue of life,
and that slowly adds to
the all-knowing mind;
designs the all-seeing eye
that always references the horizon
and where it tips over.

Christmas tree.

Torn from the womb
of the pine stacks
that grow in poisonous rows,
you're enmeshed in
tortuous gauze.
Your stump is clamped
in the vice
of the stand
and you are spangled
with glittery shit
like a bedraggled whore.

If not for the children's eyes,
it would be almost
human rights abuse.

Get it whilst it's hot.

Get it whilst it's hot:
it tends to grow cold with age.
The blood ceases to flow;
the mind leaves blank the page.

The vessel is despised
because of its bearer's age:
the phallus wrinkled, lines
show weary is its gauge.

Get it whilst it's hot:
get her whilst she's keen.
Plough the field in spring
whilst Sun towards temperate leans.

The honey fills the pot
but eager is the tongue.
Get it whilst it's hot;
get it whilst you're young.


Hatred of pigment,
of a person's country of origin,
is irrational:
we are all spilled from the same font;
coloured by the Sun and earth,
kissed by the stars.

All that's left is a fear of culture.
And a fear of culture is not diabolical:
to be diabolical, something must
twist the human.

A hatred of cuture is a mindlessness,
a lack of the human.
And so all that's left is a self-hate:
the hatred of the self.

Hate the misunderstandings in your soul,
and project them onto others.
Black faces glow with a knowing
because that is the colour of
your pitted soul of Pluto.

Old man.

Old man, you once pushed me;
now I push you.
Gazing into my pram face,
the fear of life;
staring at the back of your
wool-enveloped head,
the fear of death.

The dementia in your mind makes you infant-like;
smiling at whatever wonder it is you see.
The blanket across your knees
is like the snug clothing of baby.

I have fear, father.
I have fear.
I sometimes talk to you
and it seems you sometimes answer back

but only through the prison window of your eyes,
behind which an innocent man
pores through endless albums of memories.

Me, myself, and John Agard.

Part-caste, quarter-caste,
old bones cast a crumbled shadow.
We are African-caste, that mother-caste
never cast us away.
I am everywhere-caste,
wriggling creatures from the Devonian-caste.

There is no half-caste,
no half-eyes nor half-shadows.
We are all human-caste, mind-caste
the black is the shadow of the face
in the portrait; the white
the light.
We build the same picture

that points to an African Garden of Eden
where sin was only the dream
of a pitiful serpent
and the nightmare
of a Christian foot
trampling pagan elysium.

Two girls.

I saw the most beautiful girl today:
that moment seemed trapped within a silence.
She sat across from me.
She had a comely face,
slightly masculine;
her lips, full
seemed pluck'd for the planting
of a kiss.
I didn't ask of her name.
And now she seems blown to the wind.

I saw another;
she pushed a bicycle and smiled at me.
She wore glasses, and seemed
the pinnacle of perfection:
shy and searching,
bold and shell-bound.

Marriage would be too good a cage
for so perfect a girl.
O! to either I would be so true!
To the latter I would crackle as logs,
warm her feet, ember-kiss her eyes.

They will make men happy.
They will make men mad.
They will remind them that beauty is fleeting;
and that paranoia will always haunt
the full-hearted flaunt
of their love.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

The rapper.

Yo! This is an angry song!
I'm quite frustrated by the world
(or what I understand of it);
though, deep down, I'm a very warm person.

I love my mother,
though I'm quite ambivalent towards my father.
I suppose that's because he often worked away
when I was a child.
He did always put food on the table, though;
so I guess I respect him.

We interrupt this song briefly to bring you
the following information:
this is
an average rapper song.

I do declare: I am a rapper
(although the way these sharks maraud
us like Penguins,
you'd think we were wrappers).

Where I'm from, or the baby, or an ode to Jack Kerouac (and plants in general).

I was loosed from the womb in Brighton,
and that is where I sat, squat;
it seems that life longs to frighten
the sitter with perpetual rot.
One grows like a sunflower
but never has the time
to clip his roots in that hour
in which the dirt of other chimes.

To be raised in one place is like dying
in the midst of a thousand faces;
but to live in the rime of a pining
is to be killed by a thousand faces.
But, alas, we are grown in the soil
of the fortuity of our homes;
we grow then have fold our petals
in the lessening richness of that throne.

Somewhere, there lives a walking flower -
he lives not by the sea.
He walks 'pon each roving hour
in his longing melancholy.
But if he only knew the richness
of his wearied circumstance,
he would long to walk for ever -
that walking, talking plant.


The moments in which we are serious
are perhaps the moments when we
are at our wisest,
when we see clearest;
but our best moments, perhaps,
are those in which we are
folly's children;
a mind unburdened by insight or claim
is free to dance -
the horse can paint its stable
and go a-running.
When I am serious,
I get my best ideas -
but only a man of playful,
unchained mind
can set them free into the world.

A case of aphorism.

Everything in life is arbitrary;
the only thing that is not arbitrary
is that there is life, and that we live.
Life is down to chance,
and chance plays by its own rules;
chance is never arbitrary.

He said to her:
'I would like to partake in the
human experience with you',
and she glimmered
like the tongue of a serpent
smelling words.

'My dear,' she said, 'everything is always
a case of aphorism with you,
isn't it?'
And with that, she slipped on the ring,
turned around,
and looked into his eyes.

'Yes, I will dance with you in this game;
I will stroke the world through your eyes,
whilst keeping mine as best as I can.'
She turned around and looked into the mirror.
He slipped 'round her neck the pearl necklace,
and kissed deeply of her neck.

She smiled ruefully, with coquetry,
like a feminist maid
in a high castle, playing with a book of contradictions.
The world is dancing like a ballroom,
and we are free to slip on our shoes and move
whenever the sound of music takes our fancy.

The stranger.

I am a stranger:
there is no home;
I roam, roam, roam -
no seat in Rome,
no earthly throne.
My home is where I was born,
forlorn, from where I want to be -
beside the sea, by the trees;
but that is not my home.
My home soon becomes lost to me.
The jungles of the Congo,
the forests of Nigeria,
the hills of Yorkshire or Devon,
or Hampstead Heath,
offer me no heaven, nor peace; no home:
I go wandering through the antiquity
of my forefathers' feet -
the women whom I meet
make me long for home.
I am a wind
passing over the landscape, over the hills,
kicking up the dust;
that aged crust
sinks, soon swallows all trace of me,
apart from the journey of my bones.

Enrich yuself.

Enrich yuself:
you take a tincture
of red earth
and 'ply it 'pon
Get me?

You dig deeply
of your Mother Earth
and let her essence
get inside your nostrils;
the dirt is just another sibling:
disrespect can cause argument.

Enrich yuself:
you got to get that clay
on your fingertips.
It's like skin;
a second skin
that reminds you of your own.

Enrich yuself:
you got to strive.
Get me?
You got to survive:
be strong.
Pity is for the weak.

Enrich yuself:
you must raise up
or crush
your father.
To become a man,
you must consume

the bones of fresh fish,
break dem kola nut,
drink dem palm-wine.
Enrich yuself:
the heart of Nigeria,
the Gold Coast

and the Carribean
are different faces
of the same mother:
you spend your whole life
looking for her,
but she is everywhere.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

These clouds tonight.

I've a feeling tonight,
and I don't know why,
that the clouds will open up
and cry;
it's been far too long
and far too dry:
I've a feeling tonight -
I'm not sure why -
that the clouds will open up
and cry.

I've a feeling tonight
that the sky is weak:
to break tonight is what it seeks;
its nature is to weary long
when tears are muted from its song.
I've a feeling tonight
that the sky will break;
I've a feeling it sleeps
when I'm wide awake.

Monday, 6 December 2010


Hands are replicas of life –
are life:
they start out wrinkled and soft,
end wrinkled and soft;
show treachery, savagery, gentleness
of spirit and of flesh.
The fear of life is in them:
raise them,
and you will see blood pumping, but wrinkles
forming, and time rending,
and vigour upending;
that most malleable of body parts
can caress, strike fear in, bludgeon –
they really are unpredictable,
aren’t they?