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Uche Peter Umez

of

Owerri, IMO, Nigeria

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The Destitute

by

Uche Peter Umez



he withers away
a ragged-man
grizzled filaments of hair
dot his gnarled face
so abject so African

cocooned in his sleeping rags
hunched up is this lone soul
--outcast of a civil town?

some kind words--
not the beggarly 'kobo'
like the metallic
glances thrown at him--
may even assuage his agony

ugh, Lazarus' fate
too leprous for a loving touch.


Little Hawker

by

Uche Peter Umez



a large tray of fruits
on his little head,
he hawks about
in the streets,
crying out :" buy fre-ee-esh oranges,"
even when they are dried up
like his hopes
by the terrible African sun.

in the streets,
the African child,
the leader of tomorrow,
how he hawks about!

Coral Sun

by

Uche Peter Umez

the sun slides
her rosy fingers
down
the tufted hips of the Guaraka
Hills..
the clouds blush
softly
trembling
beneath
i stare
a geyser shooting up
in my heart.

The Endangered

by

Uche Peter Umez


for steve biko

of an incorruptible blood was he
to die for the love of country
became hunted
endangered
like the Siberian tiger
in the jaws of mortal decrees
dauntless
he remained
still rhino-skinned
a gladiator's death he chose
to teary-eyed surrender
to the ruler raw with raging fits on
the trembling throne.

Inescapable...

by

Uche Peter Umez

death befalls us all
like the cruel blade of scythe
on the grass

inexorably we fall
green or wheat-
coloured or rust

age hardly counts
as chaff.

Star song

by

Uche Peter Umez

Night

through the leaking roof I gaze
at you o stars innumerable
as my dreams in the dark
ocean of the sky.

You hear the pulse of my
timid thoughts then console me
with feathers of floss to sleep.

Night

and every night an unquiet shadow
is mother’s face even in her sleep,
and father snores his drunken snore
on the creaky squeaking bed,
while the scraggly mat scratches
my poor back.

Countless
as the wishes that whirl
in my head stars o stars-
do you ever wish?
do you think of tomorrow?

Night

and this night through
the leaking roof
and upon my gazing face
fine beams from your basket
and I wonder o stars:
does the future hold a diamond for me?

Waif of the City

by

Uche Peter Umez

Trembling wet from the cold rain,
she waddles about
scrag of a woman
in grubby clothes,
stretching out beggarly foul fingers,
or tugging at the cuff of your sleeve,
a languid grin
quivers on her lips;

A trifling glance
cast at her,
and you shrug her off like a scrap,
and move on;

Undeterred,
she, dull-eyed
in the scorching sun,
lumbers after another pedestrian,
waif of the city.

Trembling wet from the cold rain,
she waddles about
scrag of a woman
in grubby clothes,
stretching out beggarly foul fingers,
or tugging at the cuff of your sleeve,
a languid grin
quivers on her lips;

A trifling glance
cast at her,
and you shrug her off like a scrap,
and move on;

Undeterred,
she, dull-eyed
in the scorching sun,
lumbers after another pedestrian,
waif of the city.

By the Bed

by

Uche Peter Umez

As would a child
I lifted my slow body
from the covers
of sleep

mouth holding a yawn
I pried open
hazy eyes

the sun sprinkled
diaphanous light
like a halo
about your lingeriedressed
body

as you arched
lissome over me
smelling of my eau
de cologne
and planted the kiss
of an angel
on my dull forehead

and my tongue tasted of wine.

Apple...

by

Uche Peter Umez

Smooth as thighs of a Congolese woman
so tender
Round as breasts of watermelon
so soft
Juicy as lips moist with
the udara of love
My mouth o! is a well of desire
For the pulp of honey
that caresses
The hungry tongue of fire
Apple, the heart is fawning witness
To your fleshy sweetness!

echoes of oppression

by

Uche Peter Umez

groans wake me up
each day
the sun glares
its anger at the unfeeling few
that rob the miserable masses
of repose
and peace
and joy

echoes of oppression (ii)

by

Uche Peter Umez

here, love is ash
and hate a flare
as noxious
as that of Shell
that ravages the air
of my land;

here, the tyrant's fist
pounds
pains into our hearts
and sorrows
sough mournful lullabies
in our ears...

here, no joy
just the yeasting anger
against
the thieving pot-bellied few.

Misery

by

Uche Peter Umez

doomed
to gather
crumbs-
heap
when grasshoppers sing
sing
sing cheerily,
my life
tenuous and tendrian
of days
of an ant narrowlà  Ë y
crushed
by one lead-footed ty-ra-nt...

for my beloved, my land

by

Uche Peter Umez

is a melodious song of pain
my love

her tears are flowing hot lava
my beloved

nostalgia itches my eyes, woe yeasts in me,
i am home to despair

hunger roosts here, poverty breeds there,
she is home to tyranny

i and my beloved are entwined
in one inexorable poetry of agony!

My Heart of Poetry

by

Uche Peter Umez

My heart

Is a poetry

Of colours

Of love -

Rich and varied

Like a medium of multihued mosaics,

From which, like a well,

I draw and splash

A sunset gold/ruby ribbons

Across the sky,

Blanking out the grey clouds

Of hate

That threaten to engulf the roots

Of my land

In wild flames.

Terror’s Cauldron

by

Uche Peter Umez



_during the religious killings

My land like Middle East is

a vortex of hate

and religion

and power-strife.

A spectral root of terror

my land

freshly boiling in a cauldron

of senseless crises spews out

numbed bodies

onto ghastly streets.

ELEGY FOR THE MINSTREL

by

Uche Peter Umez

For Ezenwa Ohaeto

I want to gather the prickly tears in my eyes
And mould them
Into one solid ivory pillar
Of immortal poetry

On which I shall carve out
Your songs
Your indestructible chants
Which charm the masquerade of our fears

For when we too
Must have walked
Down the dim narrow path
Through the expressway of eternity

Generations in the wake
Shall live
Inspired by the marvels you
Spun home and abroad

And nurse the memorial
And remember that amongst
The forbear once rose
A Dibia whose oracular chants
Endure
Endure all ages.

Wolves Amongst Us

by

Uche Peter Umez

like a flower of beauty blossomed,
like a palm of friendship spread out,
like a heart of peace unclosed,

my land of rich blackness,
frothy with life,
opened up
to other lands and men,
her rare treasures of oil and gold and spices;

but there were tawny-breasted men,
wolves amongst us
that plundered riches:
they prowled about smiling, a Bible in one hand.

and a Sjambok in the other hand?

Man, Earth and World

by

Uche Peter Umez

The World
mouse in a maze
ensanred in Babbage's brainchild.

earth
violated
and victimized on the precipice.

Man
delirious dreamer
pawn of destruction.

Enrapt (in memoriam, Chris Okigbo, poet)

by

Uche Peter Umez

all roads meet
at croosroads

for me
eyes turned skywards

leaning on hinges of your hymn
lost in your legend!