lunes, agosto 06, 2007

Six Poems From Martins Iyoboyi


Heart glow in the dark
Scudding along, refractory smoke
Drifts like kissing waters.

Here, we dole remnants
Upon graver convictions
A bat hanging the measure
A millennial nascence

Itself, the episode replays
A pall of darkness issuing
Night-bird songs heralding
The loss of the years before.

An apparition, sickle-headed
Waiting –
Parting in alien solutions
Gesticulating our road to take.

My spirits open up, yielding
To conference.

Sitting at the ‘sycamore’ of my long affection
Inured by age-mates, who languid by aged toil
Do convene to decipher dark and momentary tales
I embellish my fuming senses to obliterate the leer

The defensive encampment of wine has flown
Bending and twisting into a vale-fashioned waste
The soup-con satisfaction grounded in oblivion
And all the animal figments upbraided
Sliding into the hubbub of the soul.

As tangibility suddenly resurrects from opaque thought,
And the transient glee of inebriety ebbed
A bitter notion does weightily float upon my plane
Briefly, vaguely indicating the present reality;
The day is dawn upon my deep abysmal slumber
The senses sentient, enunciating an existence.

If I daily sing to the sediments
Lachrymose at the faded lights of yore
What vigour shall permit my oracle
Like fast-revolving mills?

In the bizarre scene of mystery
Treaded not by sane-cultured minds
A whetted illusion oils the heart
A more tranquil place does possess there
A penchant, more like bliss and clover
Where effrontery is thought
Then if it be this above you dwell
Resting from the pallid state you once engaged in
I deign to invite death-strings
For the unfathomable dearness.

Under the bold ‘sycamore’ life-brimming
Will the wreath come in moments of despair
Dwelling in figment and appearance
To extinguish the craggy war?
My grief pours out of its cistern
And in the multifarious gloom
I see thee, brothers, rise in unity.

The moon moans,
The celestial home in the welkin sends
Vellum of titillated rays
Upon a redolent cottage of grief.

A sick-soul, in a trice, fuddles
Attempting to ease the gall
Conveyed by selfish vintage –

The excoriating flesh falls lightly
Upon earth’s incessant wetness
As patch of drifting clouds

Advances –

But leaves his door ajar
Heralding the frightful day;

Moments of deep thought
In fury

Come to recollection of
Elongated days.

A bitter departure
Deserting this bitter self, striated body.
O, if I were thus governed –

Solid states, grey and beaten
Should fulminate the blisters.

Stars are bedimmed by lonesomeness
Clouds become diffident
Memorial, my spirit haunts
Till I mingle with the after-world

A reproach greets mortality, mine –

The drift, yours –
Of a higher plane
Deathless you live –

At nightfall, curses are fizzled
Leaving us pusillanimous
With thy dust in the dust.


Lives of nobility
Caution mortals
That meekness is –
The road that we should take.
Sometime too soon dust usurps breaths
The world’s business fretting and anguish
Soon in season – quick fashion
Heaving, like sowers upon a done field
Oneness of toil and enterprise;
All are paths, where through
Mortal gleam will admonish young buds –
The road that we should take
Time evil inundates to chastise the just;
Benignity incarcerated in barbed abyss
Leaving the cosmos murky and shallow
But an age arrives to douse
Shelter the embers of inhumanity –
In their squalid residence kindness
And good – the road that we should take.
It’s no paradox life’s own demises
From crudity to nakedness
That the wealth of all mortal labour
Successes, downfalls and ambitions
All inter I mortality –
Yet if in this, cruelty abounds,
And that immortality will advance like a ray
Then must the rat race be done,
Washed off from the fretful spirits
Spirits of incessant rushing like vexed tides
But in tranquility of value and purpose –
To chose dignity in enterprise
The road that we should take.


I decry the acerbity of age,
Tears of mortal woe gather to the chill eyes,
I know no more of tender years
The youth that is no more.
A benediction he was
An opulent dream given bountifully
A nascent thing unknown
Among market plazas and fainéant plots
A hope, a glee and a laugh
The youth that is no more.
Demotic dances do gaze again
Not lugubrious sights behold I now,
Rich and divine lament do I share
Of puerile plays and fragile path
I hear of death’s horns sounding
While all eager young are no more.
I fight and doze unequal pair
Singing of the youth that is not more.
Rapacity then was nothing of point
Nor rabid thinking ever invited
Though contumacious plays did abound
Yet must it be God’s greatest time for man
He who has no youth and no age
That carves future ideal, - the youth
The glory, the emancipation, of the mind
That I cry, the youth that is no more.
Will it ever crowd my nightmares,
Arrive – those raw meditations
Free – unfettered existence – O, how,
Can that bold age come? Never! I say
The youth that is no more.


It is forty years, ten weeks and eight days
Since the shabby creature, full of anguish,
And sick of the numberless times at sea,
First tasted this land full of my brothers,
Sisters, relatives, unfortunate to
Change hands with gold and silver in that land.
I can no more recall those pangs, in the
Searing burns, oppressive whips and stale food,
Occasioned by the business of the seas,
For they seem but eternity to me;
Not the unspeakable deaths inflicted,
At those gloomy stakes and wooden crosses,
On those who, in defense of their kingdoms,
Felt reluctant to desert their native gods,
Hospitable tribesmen and bosom friends,
Will yet fade like the mast of a great ship,
From the tussled consciences of my thoughts.
Nature and the dual forces of man,
Which have but been merciful to my life,
Did admonish the buyers of humans,
And thus I became a liberated man,
(Though in some sense parochial, in
Color, tongues and outlook) to have a house,
And bred through my own strength four hale children,
Full of African blood and ideals.
My gentle friends, with whom my stiff stories,
Have, in the greatest description, found good,
Mirthful attention, to go to that old land,
That is thousands of miles from here, and
Departing my household that I so love,
Is but the loftiest error I could commit,
Yet to erase that bizarre impression,
About the odd accusations by you,
And to establish universal truth
And convince you of the greatness of the
Black continent, I shall forfeit my home
My estates and possessions, in all,
And appoint my humble good eldest son,
Who is four and twenty seasons this day,
To take charge over my huge business;
Thus, we five shall embark on this journey,
Though full of strange tides and troubles, in midst
Of natural threats and calamity,
And shall, by the grace of our mighty God,
Arrive without harm at a black harbour
From whence I show you what I so speak of.
Tomorrow, at the setting of the sun,
At that time when the seas are calm and quiet,
And all the world ignited from dusk,
We shall prepare two heavy, loaded ships,
Built with firm, stubborn wood and stiff metal,
And augment the burden, in greater rate
With provisions of food and flavored wine.
Let us take some mementos, made with fine gold
And some other presents that could well speak
Of the sojourners, to the villagers.
There is the harsh weather, the piercing tides,
The oppressive beings abounding at shores;
Our chief object though shall be to see
The foremost glint of any place, peopled
By creatures, who though in deep variance with
You, have the features which constitute men.
About three months, from this chilly harbour,
With fortune and nature well on our side,
Across the far south, through the Pacific,
On whose waters many strange tales abound,
And across then onto the Atlantic,
Picking the time and praying fervently,
We shall see my like in full-throttled bliss
And the famous empire of Ethiopia,
And see the tomb of the great Haile Salasie,
Here, we visit the shrine, our common bond,
And see the pontiff calling the spirits;
The families are pleasant and shall well
Take us in for a cup of drink and a meal,
For our laws being of such a formidable type,
Allow sweet hospitality for men of all climes;
But I am full of tears and my heart breaks,
That the scenarios which our eyes shall see
Have imported fashions and odd manners.
The ladies, that were once good and loyal,
Giving in to their father’s admonitions,
Have taken to the naked streets, giving
In to any stray call and could be found
In useless brothels and dark thickets.
The men are no better in taste, for since
The advent of white learning to the race,
Illicit hair, strange deportment, unusual
Characters have taken their better parts.
Here is the land we so hear about,
Nigeria, that great African nation,
A beacon in the horizon, full of
Life and antiquity, and we by fate shall
Pay a visitation to the great men
And women of whom we are proud here.
In this country lies the great Calabar,
Where the blacks were so dehumanized and who
After constant beating, were gathered, sold
As slaves and bought here as labourers.
Here also, we shall see the statue of
Jaja, one who in tears, pains and anguish,
Little cared about his own existence but strove
To fortify his land against this place.
My son, I appoint you over my house,
Till that time I shall return, but if not,
If I find disfavour in fortune’s sight,
And fall prey to the monsters of the deep,
Do not weep for me, but pray constantly,
That one day, the injustice against us,
The problems which we have been plunged into,
Shall end and the blood of Africans,
Most of whom were interred in fragments,
And whose blood cries to the highest heavens,
Shall be atoned for, and the troubles of
Ethnicity, religion, sentiments
And blind loyalty that so cursed the black race
Shall fade, and the black become a beacon among men.
Note that I embark upon this business,
To educate the world about the notions,
Odd conceptions and ill tales told of us.
Though I go in the grayness of my years, I do not
Forget the processes of the seas, for
I shall regain the lost valour while I
Fight for my fatherland. So, take heart, and
Weep no more, till when I shall be with you;
Yet, if in ten months, no news of me is heard,
Know that fate has done its due, and that I, an
Ill-fated man, is gone to where he comes.


Once more works of noble glee
Might again recur by artifice, to avert
All deep emotions, thought-veiled to your wonders,
And to the mind make possessions and not despoil.
Disputation usurps arguments stemming day long
Mainstay of which is ambiguity
Amazement comes elementary before all
And engenders all mouths to confess its esteem
Long has the in-satiation for knowledge commenced
To seek and dominate the strangeness of its core
Nor that mouth-philosophizing could make amendments.
The feat that no soul could discern nor discover
The soft-motioning wind causing fumes.
O! The great craftiness employed by its skillful
tender hands
Makes us halt all engagements to sit in thought.
The advent and departure of the seasons, unmistaken –
The marriage of the innocent waters roving silently
Humming and singing making no infraction of the
wonders’ ethos
Like an ingénue invoking the glee of a beloved soul
And are ingathering like heaps made by a labourer!
By your ingenuity and the aptitude we know not
By the interlink of wonders in juxtaposition
Cause pains insoluble and unyielding.
What about the nightingales, migrating to their
carefully made nests,
Or the tender dove, invigourating our strength, that
seeking nothing
But awash by your tiny waters sent from far awayhorizon
If by the care, the oncoming winter, we expect or
The refreshment of tides when seated by river banks,
Or the thought of life when nightingales release their voices,
What entity we cared or to render the message of a supreme being,
If we, fascinated by the resplendence of the lilies
Let the appeal sneak in to the world’s remotest places
And by the witness of these things in creation, revoke this
What honours have we by the wonders of nature
Let alone the creator of all things?


O, to give honour where it is undue
And fall at the idle feet of fame,
Or look with disdain the lowliest of the low
Or trample the weak to increase their woe;
O, to seek power where it is least found
To achieve results where results are weak
And praise idle brains of want of means
And covet the society of the rich –
To bear the orphan's cry and the widow’s tears
And walk my way with all reckless abandon
To fear for earth because I desire life
And allow cruel hearts to achieve their ends
Or be a pacifist where injustice reigns
And look with hope at a land in mist –
Yea, to live fretful where sorrow comes
And eat my soul’s comfort by the dying day –
Or beg to win fame, wealth, dignity or laurels
And be sung where earth rings her applauses –
Oh, to please men instead of myself
And make me the slave to the world’s wishes
These and lots more, O soul of mine
I know not how to do!

Martins Iyoboyi was born in 1972 in Ebelle, in the Esan speaking part of Edo State, Nigeria. Losing his father at a tender age, indigence and want compelled him to work as a farmer, insurance and tax agent, a teacher and a newspaper correspondent. Through dint of hard work and extreme sacrifices, he was able to educate himself at the Bayero University Kano, where he graduated with honors in economics, which he teaches at the Kano State College of Education in Kano, Nigeria. A prodigious writer, Iyoboyi's poems have appeared previously in Zone, as well as in The Flask Review, 63 Channels, Contemporary Rhyme, The Bending Spoons, and International Zeitschrift.

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