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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org