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POEMS BY OZIOMA ONUZULIKE
EARTH AND THE MADMAN

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PERSONAL STATEMENTS | "WEEKEND SEX" WITH GOLD CIRCLE CONDOM | YEAR 2000 | WHER ARE THE TRUTH'S PEOPLE? | TRUTH | THE ROAD TO NSUKKA | RE-CREATION | GROUNDNUT | YOUTH | NEW DEMOCRACY | HEALING | MILLENNIUM SONG | WINGLESS TERMITES | EMPTY RITUAL | MIRAGE | OKADA | METAMORPHOSIS | TIMING | COUGH | DOGS AND THEIR WATER IN BROKEN POTS | BURDEN OF THE SONGBIRD | NIGHT FLIGHT TO LAGOS | RETRURING POLITICIANS | THE WATCHMAN | EARTH AND THE MADMAN

I
Can the madman ever be afraid
of the grave
when the grave is earth
and earth the madman's voice?

Can the madman ever be afraid
of the grave?
No. No. Never
even the bruises in his tortured tongue
are richer and louder
at the deepest cuts
when glazed over with ground earth
liquefied by the rekindled furnaces
of wicked men
guarding their barn of skulls

II
The madman sings of man's distortion of
life
of equal lengths and hollows
thrown from the hurnp of clay
centered on the wheel by the Potter

the madman sings of the wild textures of
life
and the mangling of fellows' lives
by fellows
and the crushing of fellows
on the grindstone of hunger
and the slaking of fellows' dry throats
in the urine of drunkards and harlots

The madman sings
of the kneading of fellows' lives
by fellows
on the wedged boards of pain
and the gouging of fellows' skin
by fellows
with the gouges of injustices...

The madman sings of the bruising of
fellows' mouths
by fellows
with sandstones
picked from the streets of power

The madman sings of the cladding
of
fellow men
by fellow men
with alien skins of debt and death

The madman sings for these human
refuses
dumped across your neighbourhood
The madman sings for those human
refuses
heaped between borrowed walls
between strange walls in strange lands
The madman sings for those human
refuses
rotting in the silences of dumping
grounds
... and waiting for the uncertain hands
of scavengers

III
Let the madman sing of life
passed through the furnace.
Let the madman sing of life
that sloughs all shackles
and toughens
when shredded wills vitrify
into a steeled lump

Let the madman sing of life
spiced with specks of burnt iron
bursting with the lyrics
of a leopard's skin

Porcelain life
passed through furnace
puts on
the voice
of metal

IV
Spread your ears on the ground
and listen...
Listen...
Has the creator not
Spoken through the imperishable voices
of the shards of earthen pot?

There is no drinking water
in this island of pure spring.
Here ... the people sprawl before a
crossroads
with trembling palms
cupping bony heads
yielding to the sword of the scorching
sun
Who shall dam these tears?
Who?
Who shall lead the way
out of this dung yard?
Who?

The madman sings for the wandering herd,
trampling the excrement of the herdsmen
The madman sings of sprouting hopes
for folk who eat with him
from the same bowl of spiced sand
with hands washed in spittle


V
The madman ponders
over these coils of sticky earth
passed through fire
by the wobbling hands of wicked men.
The madman ponders and wonders...

The madman ponders
over these lumps of fired earth
pondering and wondering
at their unwavering will
steeled with the grog of metal
peeping through the skin of earth
to which all mortals must return
in silence,
empty
naked

VI
There is confusion...
There is confusion here and there...
The madman is still counting
the metallic notches
scattered on the twisted barrel
of his people's soul
resting on the crumbling prop
of sore limbs
immovable with loads of sin

There is confusion...
There is confusion here and there...
The madman still ponders...
Until these burdens are off-loaded
Can any jaw-breaking decree
de-water old balms
for the healing of these deepening
wounds?
The madman still ponders and wonders

VII
When will people of our land
inter
mutual fear in the grave of the past
and sit on green lawns
to compose virgin songs
under the tingling silences
of a new moon?

When will people of our land
nod their heads in triumph
and like a mother
at the dawn of a new day
sweep clean the cold ashes
of a burnt past?

Come...
Who says this earth must reremain parched,
never again to see water to drink?


Come ... come and sort this barn...
Who says this burnt barn
lacks no seeds of regeneration?
Who says this land will remain crippled,
forever limping with the limp
of an old cripple,
dancing the dance of an old leper?

Come...
show me...
who says this land
will never again
be clad in green?
Who says those who once slept along
twisted queues,
those who borrowed wings and flew
away,
will never again return
to the land they ate its sand in infancy

People of our land,
My own is my own
Their own is their own.
This is my land; this is our land
We must return to our land
We must return
Even in silences
We must return
to depart no more.

Copy right by Ulonka and Ozioma Onuzuluike, 2002

 
 

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