INTERSECULAR

Like a cow
Eschewing its thoughts
The worship bells
Choked my throat
Penned me to my pagy leaf

Sunday mournings
Have my sins been so many?
Stop confessing guiltily
What you profess so
Guiltlessly.

Monday is the new Sunday.
If you want to meet God,
Look for Him on Monday –
On Sunday, Saturday and Friday He is far far away,
Tired of our hypocrisy.

-Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

THE VILLAGER

ONCE UPON a time, in a village near Enugu, nestling in the luscious green valleys between the plateaus of the Udi hills, in south-eastern Nigeria, there settled a city-dweller, a young urbanite, come to hide from fellow city dwellers and indeed the city itself in the quiet of this peaceful village.

At first the quiet laze of the unhurried village folk was a great delight to him and a welcome change from the impersonal razzmatazz of the city. However, after some time there arose in him an itch, product of a silent but powerful addiction to city-life which, unknown to him, had become a part of his constitution.

The restless itch became exacerbated to the point where he was about to abandon all hope of a more fulfilling existence in the rural and resort back to the urban.

That was when he met the villager.

Previously he had only seen him fleetingly, as he went to or returned from his farm, presunrise and postsunset, without ever clearly discerning his features or exchanging a word or direct gaze with him.

But did dusk descend later than usual upon this fateful day? Or did the villager’s own restlessness propel him out of his farm, setting him homebound, earlier than usual?

It could be anything.

But as the city-dweller looked up from his front door, there he saw the familiar fleeting figure… only this time he was much more visible in the hanging lights of mesmerizingly tantalisingly unhurried sunset.

For the first time he saw the villager’s features and, lo and behold, he was a young man just like himself; but his face appeared to have been chiselled out of smooth, hard stone, fired in flames like metal ore, and then brought to life by a soft breath from heaven. For the eyes which momentarily seized the city-dweller’s, though set in the most rugged of features, were gentle and kind. Suddenly they seemed so similar, these two very unsimilar men.

Only for a moment did these two men lock gaze and then the villager looked again ahead of him and, sack in hand, hoe slung over his shoulder, sturdily yet gracefully walked on home, a half-spring, half-unspring, in his heels, a man freely born to farm his village land, oblivious to everything else, happy and content in his destiny.

The next day the city-dweller packed his belongings and returned to his home in the city. He had found what he came to the village searching for. He had found and become the villager in his heart.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

EVEN IN A DAY’S TIME (Holy Night)

I have heard that a new star
Is coming…
I hear it every time I return to the
Earth –
Somebody wrote it down a long time
Ago –

And everytime I reincarnate
I am confronted anew with the fact
Of the coming of a new star
A radiant star brighter than the sun
Filled with the power of all the seven heavens…

I have seen this Star.
I saw it once before I was born
I saw it from atop a Mountain before I was unborn
And I have no doubt that one day
It will have come much too close to the earth
For us to be able to do any other thing
Than burn down, burn up or become eternally burning flames
Of spiritual light, paradisiacal fire
Beyond the understanding of a new generation
And a new earth.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

ODE TO QUIETNESS

Good morning, Quietness,
I remember how with surprise
I felt your absence last night.
And did I thirst for you? First I thrashed about wildly,
Clutching at every suggestion of you,

Then, exhausted, like a leopard I crouched, still,
And lay in wait for you – awake, listening,
Until the morning came… My life rolled before my inner eyes,
Awakening you from the depths of my heart –
Good morning, Quietness, as I fall asleep at last.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

BROODING

There is a bird
Crying outside my window
In the woods
An echo of loneliness within me…
Every few seconds
A lonesome wail
Haunting, detached, a hall of sorrows
An abandoned lover
A brother alone
A wanderer in the woods of life
Between the trees and the dark leaves
Beneath the reach of the sun…
I hear your call
Partner
I feel you, I feel you well.

The glass is dark
The mirror within is a bird outside
I never see but always hear
For I carry the sorrow within.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.
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THE SUBTLE GIFT

Most things become
smaller
Receeding into
Distance.

Yet, as memories of you
Race into fargone bowels of time
Looking back all I see
You towering ever bigger in my mind –

How can this be?
Newton, Einstein and Hawkings may try
But never can explain this –
It transcends intellect.

Time, the subtle thief, with time
Has become the subtle teacher
The subtle giver
The subtle gift.

(for Kwame Chukwumerije)

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije

 

THE THIRST COMMANDMENT

One man’s iconolater
Is the other man’s idolworshipper
Only the iconoclast
Is atheist – to some
Iconic deity itself to others
We see from different sides.

One man’s woman
Some nights is another
Woman’s man
– shout! all you want
Hidden things will continue
To happen in hidden places.

Understanding is
A fragment of that
Cracked mirror’s bottom.
Return from your space ship
Bewildered scientist
The greater mystery is humanity.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.
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