Maninbo is canceled, not dead,
Canceled. There is a curtain drawn
Over him and over his remembrance
Of those ten thousand lives.
The purity of flowers in bloom he touched
with cindered hands the chastity of rivers
he fondled with the rudeness of his dirt
the power of his petulant age and its poison.
They say his leering slithers down the skin,
his eyes lascivious with lust corrupts and his
groping fingers carry filth no soaps can wash away
Sin has clogged the retina in his eyes and his
Gaze full of slime creeps like that primeval snake
unbidden from the foreheads of maidens
down to their hemmed feet.
He is the insufferable terrorist with coagulant desires
Aimed at what was purest in Korea,
the turbid thing clogging the arteries
of the country he claims to love.
It was not the place of old men
to retain lust, age must rinse and gargle
with the dignity of sea, wash
until white as Justice from the Caucasus
in winter, spotless as its snow.
This is the law, the eternal
prison at 0 Kelvin from which
nothing springs. There is no rebirth
no redemption, no flowing Ganges
no red-hot African axehead to clutch
in propitiation or penance, no plea
nor prayer, no road back to life
from carceral cancelation.
Scatter his ashes with its plaintive cry
into the sieve of the galaxies, watch
the fading into Orion over the city of Gunsan
and trace the flattened grace of one
who sought redemption in remembrance
when what was needed was blood
and the end of potency in venom.
A streak in the darkness traces
the path of a falling, fallen star
where soon there will be nothing
but silence that knows no name
no comet arcs, no wake
of the brightness that once burned
over Korean skies – no afterglow
to the temper of a passion
that brightly caught our eyes.
Go, Maninbo, hard into the night,
you viper stripped of stripes and glow
into that oblivion of dirty old men
whose habit of monks disguised
a heart of grubby sailors and their songs.
Go gently or go hard, this is the fate of wrong
as decreed by the tongue of the wronged,
go into that vaccum shorn of joy, the blackhole
of even the orient.
Die, Maninbo, be mourned by widow
by wizened courtesans, drunks, scum
of the earth, poets whose feet have trodden
forbidden earth, harlots with virtues lapsed
long ago into loaves of bread and a longing
for one kind touch by a miserable kind man.
Die, Maninbo, journey to that place
Where mourning wakes no desires
For flesh firm or fallen, where guilt
plunges the guilty into eternal silence.
Go, we’ll mourn your passing guilt.
Tade Ipadeola is a Nigerian poet and lawyer, was born September 11 1970. He has three published volumes of poetry – A Time of Signs (2000), The Rain Fardel (2005) and The Sahara Testaments (2013) to his credit. He also has other notable works such as translations of W.H Auden into Yoruba and Daniel Fagunwa into English. He has published many short stories and essays. In 2009, he won the Delphic Laurel in poetry with his poem ‘Songbird’, in Jeju, South Korea. His third volume of poetry, The Sahara Testaments – a sequence of 1000 quatrains on the Sahara – is his latest work which won the Nigeria Prize for Literature 2013. It is regarded as a candidate for the African canon. At $100,000.00, the Nigeria Prize for Literature commands the largest purse for a literary prize in Africa.
In 2014, Tade Ipadeola endowed the Kofi Awoonor Memorial Library with his Nigeria Prize winnings. The Library is one of the largest dedicated to African and World Literature on the continent.
He was chosen by the Rockefeller Foundation as one of 12 artists, scholars and leaders from around the world who were Residents at the Bellagio Centre in Italy all of November 2015.
The works of Tade Ipadeola explore geographies, history, prehistory, flora, fauna, language and identities. His works have been described as epical, demonstrating a striking marriage of sound and sense.
Tade Ipadeola is a past president of PEN (Nigeria Centre) and a past fellow of the Iowa Fall Residency Program.
Tade lives in Ibadan, Nigeria, where he writes and practices law.
Cover Photo by Fred Kearney