Beneath the drum of war
The mouth of a kongo drum spat out
my bones skittering along the tracks
of mud on the face of the tragedy
returned home. I embrace the silhouette
of his scars & pour water from my chest
on his shorn head. We sit under
a harmattan wrinkled tree, lick the lips
of small cups, waiting as the men help
our father settle with the sediments
of memory into the worn embrace of red
soil. He thinks it is wrong
that the concrete under his feet
has shown itself to be sharp sand
moulded with blood.
He thinks of the man that laughed
robust songs from his oiled belly.
I think of the walker by his room door
that dragged him about as he screamed
for his god to take him. We sit there
deep in the susurration of our blood
until the night cloths us & a
sonorous flute bleats a final lullaby.
In the spirit of full disclosure
I'm the chief bride of lies, a snake
in the grass, an hyena giggling
in the dust coloured veldt, a vulture
launching from a cracked tree of bones.
I'm carnage whispered sly as oil
into the ears, questing deep into
the brain to lick all sense from it.
I'm deeply entrenched in the roots
of your soul, holding you down
& away from the illumination just
beyond touch or reason.
I'm a web of confusion cast about
by the spidery intuition to con. I'm
the beast king sitting on a shelf
of scalped skin. I'm a lonely figure
standing in a middle of the dance floor,
glass raised to a window,
back turned to a wall.
I'm an untitled etching on a woman's skin,
a crayon drawing on a lone boy's book,
a sad song on a bitter girl's tongue.
I'm the bruise on a fist. I did
what I did & I'll do it again.
It was done to me first
in a morning, before sunlight,
before dawn bright, before bird
twitch. I'm a broken dream
catcher caught in the hands
of a lightning. I'm a rain of voices
on the kitchen sink when
the plumbing don't do right.
I do wrong all the time.
I'm the lie in each story that
a mother tells herself in order
to love her life. I'm the story
that doesn't change in a crime
fiction. I'm a dog of the city,
the wolf of a country.
I eat anything even my own damned body.
I'm the flesh & blood,
a grisly god,
the gristle & bile
in this potpourri of tragedies.
I'm a genre of pain,
the sweetest sucrose this world
has ever made.
I'm the lie in a confession
that you must believe because
you always need a truth.
All I have said above is true.
You just need to close your eyes
& you will see, I am who I say I am.
Osahon Oka is a Nigerian poet of Bini/Kwale descent. His writing experiments with language. His works are up on Jalada, Ice floe press, Visual verse and elsewhere. His writing has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize as well as the Best of the Net Anthology.