If not for Jehovah
they would have dug the earth
for cocoyam on my grave,
but would I have known?
This is for the housefly
that went all the way down.
Its swollen belly ripe with life’s cloying
its sodden wings steadfast to the end.
Having gone from dung to open sewers
from over-ripe mangoes to party left-overs
having washed its fingers in festering wounds
perch after perch left its throat parched
And crazed with an aromatic thirst
it spun a tortuous buzz around the glass
taking giddy bearings between the froth,
sunset’s cerise, and the swatting palm.
One thing must kill a man, they say,
life does not stretch like a gun’s barrel.
Igba melo la o lo laye
teni n ma se faaji…
Hear the crunch of life between my teeth
this is not sugarcane, this is bone cracked
for its succulent marrow
sucked for blood’s sweetness.
Attend quickly to this matter
this riddle the talking-drums have dropped,
the left palm snug on the occiput
the right conducting the waist’s weave
Bata… bata… bata… bata…
All of the dance may be in the head,
whether the heel-spin or the cobra-weave,
Shoki may skew the Gaussian for retarded humanity
but Windek is not for windswept knees.
These songs remain a law unto themselves,
sounds breath-broken into cadences of magic,
armless, legless, yet able to drag ashore,
classics are sonic fractals for the ears:
hear the pluripotency of Mafikizolo.
Awon temi l’Agbowo,
nawo nawo nawo nawo
drifters for the sheer drifting
this is to the froth’s fly
to the life that eats with ten fingers
Let us dig, debt-deep, bottomed-out:
Are we not twisted shapes of childhood’s anvil?
Are we not agnostics on Dionysian reveries?
Are we not actors on a Pinter Pause?
Or are we flies,
mere froth flies
who stayed true to the cask?
The glint of cognac as light catches the flute’s eye,
amber spirits or glass-ghommids,
somebody has brewed a god in a burning goblet
and night has burst into a neon-song―
Oblivion is the judgment of the living
immortality is the vanity of the dead.
Let dawn find us sprawled and spent
tired of nauseous bearings between the bed and the bowl
wondering why some refused to drag a seat and revel
why others wither away from stirring a broth not their own.
Igba melo la o lo laye,
are we not just froth flies?
Tunji Olalere is the author of Velvet Blue and Other Uncertainties, a chapbook of poems. He tweets from @tunji_olalere