PREY

She saw a hunter resting in the forest
His manly shoulders
Caused the trees to heave
In expectation –

She ruffled the leaves of his hair
Placed her hand on her heart
As she read his rising thoughts
He had been waiting for her.

Tremble not, lovely maiden,
Stretch out your hands and pluck
My golden fruit
For it hath not ripened in vain

This forest whispers
Told me you were
Coming…
The hunter hath found his mark.

The queen of hearts
Has met her match.
Black grass will quiver tonight
But the forest will keep our secret, my dear.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije

ALL OR NOTHING

The entire I gave
While smallness was all
She ever wanted.
But the rest of me thirsts too.

When frivolity was laughing
At its own shadow
I warned
That my heart was dripping…

When superficiality was doing the maths
Around its own tunnel vision
I insisted
My heart is dripping out…

When cunning was blind to the metaphor
Of its own despair
I fell silent
And listened to the sound of bleeding feet

Walking away.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

LINEAGE

Look at the palm of my hand,
My lineage has run riot –
Griot! Take note!
For the palm is the root of our land.

Tapper, come down
from them high
intoxicating dread locks,

The Elders on the ground
Can see beyond the highest tree.
Tapper, come down
And tap your roots instead

Look at the palm of your land.
Before you boast, ask yourself if you really know
The back of your hand.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije
(PALM LINES)

A THOUSAND ETERNITIES

I see the sun rising
The horizon is no longer far
We have met each other halfway
The horizon is now the road.

The smell of your breast
Is a miracle
The touch of your breath
Is a poem

That ceases never to enchant
The undulating sands beneath which
My desert is overpowered
By your thousand flowers…

I am born anew
When you gently wake me up
In the night
Just to look into my eyes…

Heaven.

Heaven be your name
And though memoryless we wander
Far away in this blue grass under
The heavens,

Yet you pull me up where I see you
Calling me, reminding me, admonishing me
With your eyes in the middle
Of the night.

Heaven be our home
A thousand eternities from now
Far Beyond yonder horizon
We see.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

ABOMINATION

My feet are stepping on me
My souls are brutalised
My grass is Thorn, apart

Strangers
Are laughing in glee
But my children do not understand

It is the foolish lizard
Who nods along wisely
To the snake’s slithering sermon

A child slaps his father
And corrects him
Did you hear the sky fall down?

Are you not ashamed?
If it is wisdom,
Why is it vestigial?

A short tree, shorter than me
Has peed on me –
Can I take it like a man?

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

STILL SEEKING THE FUTURE

I see
Wavering eyes
Tied around my ankles
Tightly beaded the masquerade stumbles

The drums think it is a dance and praise on
The familiar djini pokes his feathered skull
Out of the future – here I am!
Leaden feet leading until again

We stand on the river bank…
Sorry, where exactly?
We have been singing for the boat
Since time immemorial –

Unreversedly.

The mamiwater’s melodious silence answers us

Yet our ancestors did not lie
When they reassured us that the only
Real things are the invisible ones
Who refuse to see us.

If there be no boat
How shall the river
Cross us over
Onto the promised sand?

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

FREEDOM SPIRIT

I am on the bird’s wing,
When it beats they say
It is my heart.
Where are you going,
Prodigal Son?

I am on the lion’s tail.
When it twitches they say
It is my pride.
Where are you going,
Rebellious Brother?

If you put your ear
To the ground
All you will hear
Is the Spirit that
Rides within.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.