As soon as mama weaned me
Papa stood by the corners of my mouth
With a gourd, full of wisdom
And told me; “Drink, my child, drink!
For life is a journey through a desert
Where there are no oases.”

My feet are dusty with age
And soon my ghost would sit
On the lips of my grave;
But a man as me, who at boyhood
chewed the smoke from his father’s pipe
should not go down, bland and unripe

I am writing you from the fireplace of nostalgia
Where memories melt me into tears
For our friendship with the rain is severed-
The same lightening which aforetime,
Guides a lost boy into the bosom of his home
Invites thunder to rain lethal blows of death
On the same.
Dead are the days when the shrine was
but a post office where each man
with stamps of libations, sent letters to nature
and received correspondences from the same

As the sickle of time bares my head
I am become a mirror of experience
For the young to stop, stare
And see how well they have adorned
Themselves to meet their future,
But will haste let them?

It is true that many an old man’s mind
Is a street littered with carcasses of
Decaying dreams (a dance floor for maggots)
But it is not true that they all look forward
To nothing but death, ‘cause tonight,
I and my walking stick will keep a vigil
To receive you, dear Dawn

Not even the sore throat of the cock
whose crow announces daybreak
Must stop you, ‘cause you are
The help our stuttering meteorologist needs.
For like a talking drum, you bite not your tongue
When you remind us that nature is roaring
And soon she’d shoot bullets of earthquakes
From her nozzle-less riffle of disasters.
Then the smile of rivers will melt into a laughter
Of floods and epidemics will mock us
When our own ridges produce tubers of death
That’d make our hair drop, strand after strand
Like a deciduous tree sheds its leaves

By then, men will hold guns for boys to pull triggers
And we will begin afresh to sing dirges
For still-birthed crayons and dead pens,
Like we did when Okigbo’s thighs,
Were as grilled chicken, laid on the plates
Of peace for the chewing pleasure of the war

Dear Dawn, you’re paraphernalia
For our masquerades; your bare chest is
The divining tray on which we must throw cowries;
You are the town crier of the future,
Please when you arrive the village square,
Halt the loud music of urbanization, at once!
And tell the people not to wrestle with shrubs
And break the necks of trees,
Tell them not to spit refuse on the face of our rivers,
Tell them that the sun in the eyes of the star is dimming
And a corrosive tear trickles down the cheeks of our sky
Tell them…

Dawn, I implore you to drive carefully,
For our road(s) is a bait on the hook of death
And a reckless driver, its sinker!

Photo by Hernan Pauccara from Pexels