We've written our names on mountains and watched how the letters fell one by one as the seasons came, centuries later and weathered our voices away into vanishing echoes of forgotten dreams. We wrote our names on sands and we somehow saw how the particles left one by one as we became diverse songs shuffling to enter the mouth of our mother each time she sits at the window with our pictures resting on her palms. And she said we were MISTAKES holding the moon on a teary night when stars fell into a forgotten wind with howls bearing our voices:
- of scars from the ridges of our fingerprints where we sowed the seed of our change which became a dance rehearsal for the festival of madness.
- of tales of animals swallowing our coins in exchange for our folly.
- of the girls that went for a picnic in the "Wonderlands" of Sambisa forest and their cherries were ploughed with moans escaping the eyes of their mothers in a pool of tears.
These tales turned me into a GHETTO POET and I learnt the language of the street. My pen was dipped into the blood of those that fell into broken bottles and my scrolls were the body of the girls I visited to check the map of the city where I came - I never found myself. I was schooled by the street hustlers - the girl holding her future in a tray of bread and the boy pushing a truck of wood on the road paths breaking into songs each time they ate a meal of footprints. This made me write my first poem in a SATIRE 102 class. I carved an image of a wall in the poem for boys of Benue to climb and peek into their homes to see how their father’s house had turned into a CATTLE COLONY. The dungs of these cattle were fertilisers of a bloody harvest gathered into the food basket of Benue as the beauty of Dooshima and Ankwasi became a rag trampled upon by herdsmen. The bones of fathers turned into building blocks for cattle ranches. These tales again ferried me, this time, into the tired arms of SOLITUDE. In its arms, I learnt a new song - lullabies - of empty walls through which my father left with a rifle in his hands. He was going to find my brother who went to Sambissa in search of my sister. He left when I was 6 and I saw how he counted the cascading tears falling down the spring of his eyes. And father left when I was 10 and only left his ghost in my pocket. Each night, I hear the whispers of how he went to his mother’s grave in search of rebirth FOR BOYS OF TOMORROW.
Intermission: Forgive me for my silence, O boy! How many hills have you climbed? How many rivers have you crossed into your body, only to drown at the libation of waves? How many bullets have you plucked from your body into a rifle of tears? The same gods that promised to protect you are sleeping in the laps of harlots. The same sky that promised to protect you have SHATTERED into shards and I saw how they dissolved in your tears. The street reminds me of you, the griefs you wore like silk and the times you wrapped your body in the skin of your tongue, only to push your voice down your throat, far beyond the reach of your hands. I thought boys don't cry, I thought they don't break until I saw your skin when you became a man. I saw how they croaked against your flesh and I heard the sound of your voices breaking off the shell of silence and then I knew that MEN CRY TOO. Your mother never told you...
What more do I say? I don't need to ask how you felt when you cowered into a room void of space. This letter is UNSCRIPTED but it is a theatre for boys like you, counting every shadow that deserted them when the moon was lost. It is a troupe on a stage unfolding the VOID sky that cloaked your eyes for long. You never knew. Your mother never told you. She was lost in her midnight moans each time she created an image of him but she was broken beyond what she thought. She wanted you to be strong like Samson each time a lion came to devour her. But she never knew that Samson always lost his strength in the presence of damsels. She never knew you had a shadow too, if not she would have taught you how to shower love on a woman without giving away your bones to the dogs. She left you in TORTURED SILENCE as you saw Angela and felt red demons crippling your body. Hold yourself boy, your body is a city you've never been to. I know you've set your feet on the shores, but you have always lived in the ILLUSION like a poem without an image. You've always been a metaphor cracking the lips of readers like harmattan. Boy, I know how you ran into a drum skin as you gurgled into a different beat only to find yourself jiggling to the clinks of beer bottles. The sour kisses you got have been BEYOND BROKEN LIPS.
Your home was invaded somewhere in the streets of Alaska. In the freezing weather, your mother - a BLACK WOMAN - became a fur for the body of strange men. Her saggy breasts no longer held the pride of black lives. They became a toy of mockery. Boy! How long will you continue in the hamlets of fear? Your brother was a boy-soldier and a FRAGMENT OF WAR somewhere in the ruins of Aleppo. And the specks of dust are littered on the walls of your room with the stench of breath which reeks of soot of a burnt city. He was a soldier who fought for you. Maybe that was why father never came back because he should have taken the bullets in his stead but he left into a cluster of shadows seeking asylum beyond the walls of the night. I still hear his echoes penetrating the walls of my poems and reverberations are amplitudes cresting the body of your city with the ghosts that went in search of skins to wear.
They said the joys of war are fragments of things broken and sweet, things falling apart into the blissful wrinkles of faces and things written on scripts centuries ago, only to play on the theatre of our country. This epistle is a scar from my bloody fingers. Your father asked me to tell you that this world is a music where you dance alone without a melody. And I wrote this - MY POEM, OUR POEMS - when I heard about the coming of the wind. I then wrote your name on the SAND OF TIME because the same wind will come to take its harvest of the particles into diverse cities and we will be one body in diverse places - standing out. During the sojourn into those cities, I wrote my second poem in a SATIRE 105 class and this time, I built a ranch for an animal farm - my country. And then I knew the lives of cattle was much better than that of humans. Didn't the creator Himself make man on the last day of creation?
Boy, I've written many epistles of how you became an endangered species, how no one knows the colour of your tears neither do they know the language of your silence. But each time, those letters are treated like NOBODY’S BUSINESS. I spoke for you when no one cared about the rhythm of your voices, for in them, I heard the cry of vengeance FOR GIRLS OF TOMORROW and when the canon hits again and again like a pendulum, you became a cluster of songs waiting to drop into pool of ears, but each time like a leaf, you were left to sail into voyage where sailors went and never returned. I later watched the sky and the rumblings reminded me of your HIDEOUS LANDSCAPES, place where you went to blare your voice to become EVERYBODY'S BUSINESS. I say to you, never give up - in you, the heavens whisper.
To the WOMEN OF TOMORROW, hold your boys betwixt the warmth of your pouch, teach them the way the sun rises and sets, remind them of the darkness that eludes the terrains of your womb, and how they rose into the light at their first cry. Do not BLAME THE SOCIETY for the wrongs they go through. Oh boy, this is where I say my farewell, your image is a PORTRAIT on my wall for when the sky is clear, I will hold a banquet FOR MEN OF TOMORROW, where we will drink and merry to the liquor of sunset juice. This is my RESTITUTION for the times you died in your body. Be strong, FOR THE BOYS OF TOMORROW!
Written by Aire Joshua Omotayo