mosaic of a dirge on white smock and other poems | Martins Deep

to the  s e e d  that would find seedbed on a freshly-dug  g r a v e

about papa’s sleep, there is this tale

your mother must never hear:

   imagery:                       in his sandcastle,

                                         a boy grants euthanasia 

                                         to a badly wounded soldier ant.


life came as a blue-eyed owl, drenched

& flightless beneath an udara tree.

you plucked it the hoary hair of your mother to weave

a nest, but misery was its only fertile egg to hatch.


[you know it’s offsprings are pecking

when your mother gripes

about, sharp pain in my back & waist, Obim]

rheumatism: a new word you learnt 

                       about the name of their feeding style.


you’d gulp the growth hormone

of palm trees, till your legs could pedal

papa’s bicycle, but, when you do, 

one of his many creditors would confiscate it


ghosts of your childhood

will plunder your joy

as they vanish with the smoke

of mama’s cooking fire —

a fire you want to feed your vices 

but you fear you’ll lift your hands,

& miss the weight of chains.


you’ll weep for seasons like teardrops

are seeds to sow gold-yielding crops,

& cede dreams where

        a mother hen scatters ash

        over it:                     your witness of a second burial

                                          within four market weeks.


& when you gaze up with a curse for the evening 

of your birth, seething in your mouth,

you’d watch your half-timbered walls grow telling tongues,

      saying;   (a) child, it rains every night you fall asleep

                        how that there is no dry season

                        because drought will never

                        suck dry the lacrymal gland of mama’s eyes


                   (b) that you were never, trully, weaned

                doesn’t make you less a man

                        from those you’ve met tracing

                        their pedigrees to baobab trees. 


from then on, you’ll feel guilty every time

you hear news of flooding, because you

bolted the floodgates of your eyes with a dried reed.


an inch or two in humus, your taproots 

would drink liquidized emerald into 

your chlorophyll; 

till a cloud of pollinators come

for your nectar, pollen, 

& non would believe how

death grew green fingers to tend

a garden on a freshly-dug grave.

mosaic of a dirge on white smock

1a. a boy’s fingers are  t e n d r i l s


they crawl towards the fissure on a vase

under the shade of a girl’s white smock  


[a girl whose mother fetches the notes

from a thrush’s dawn chorus to call Ijeoma]


1b. he grows  r o o t s, this boy,

& feigns a cedar


because raindrops from the pores of her skin

tasted like herbicide, he wilts into


a seed that will photosynthesize

the false laughter of her dying star.

on black street: waterholes &  w i l d l i f e     

caution:                a photographer must tread gingerly

                               filming only with lenses positioned at the corner of his eyes.


on Black Street, the walls are cartridge papers 

bearing paintings of silhouettes 


humanoid shapes flickering in neon lamps, 

flashes of headlamps;


here, you’ll see a girl’s sinewed hands grow

barbed wires to be flung around 

pot-bellied men in agbada


you’d hear lassoes whizzing pass your ears, trapping things


above, starry skies are mistaken for fireflies 

caught in the web of a black widow


as driftage cut in shapes of a lot,

they float as to a black hole,

as to a waterhole.

children knowing not to look back,

though, looking over their shoulders.


they go panting this way & that;

flaneurs with the red, smouldering ash of cigars

glowing into bloodshot eyes

drawn to everything with a danger sign.


there is this air about you’ll feel; tailwinds

of the ghosts of dead dreams 

the voices in your head would come out to play

in the bodies of other boys urging you on

the eve of your necklacing.


a place of shadows cursed with the dance 

of the preacher’s lost sheep.

because a DJ  plays a charmer’s tune  

whose rhythms dulls, & faints the voices:

conscience, the shepherd’s, Holy Books…


still they trudge on, children of the wild

far little familiar with the fisher’s swooping skill, 

yet sure how to eat the bait clean  

from off the hook without getting caught.


        a people forearmed only with reckless hope

        their poisoning by this waterhole

        to coincide with an antidote.


Martins Deep is a Nigerian poet, photographer, & currently a student of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. His works have appeared, or are forthcoming on Writers Space Africa, Agbowo Magazine, Coffee, The Ducor Review, The Peace Exhibit, IconTowers Studios UK, & elsewhere. He is deeply passionate about telling the boy child stories in his poems, & photos. His photos, & poems are richly themed with true, relatable African condition. He is the brain behind Shotstoryz Photography. You can reach him via email:    

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