Sentinel Poetry (Online) #57 ISSN 1479-425X


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Christopher Okigbo


The Passage


BEFORE YOU, my mother Idoto,

Naked I stand;

Before your weary presence,

A prodigal

Leaning on an oilbean,

Lost in your legend

Under your power wait I

On barefoot,

Watchman for the watchword

At heavensgate;

Out of the depth my cry:

Give ear and hearken…

DARK WATERS of the beginning.

Ray, violet,and short, piercing the gloom,

Foreshadow the fire that is dreamed of.

Me to the orangery

Solitude invites,

A wagtail, to tell

The tangled-wood-tale;

A sunbird, to mourn

A mother on spray.

Rain and sun in single combat;

On one leg standing,

In silence at the passage

The young bird at  the passage

SILENCE FACES at crossroads:

Festivity in black…

Column of ants,

Behind the bell tower,

Into the hot garden

Where all roads meet:

Festivity in black…

O Anan at the knob of the panel oblong,

Hear us at crossroads at the great hinges

Where the players of loft organ

Rehearse old lovely fragment, alone-

Strains of pressed orange leaves on pages

Bleach of the light of years held in leather:

For we are listening in cornfields

Among the windplayers,

Listening to the wind leaning over

Its loveliest fragment…..



Love Apart


The moon has
ascended between us,
Between two pines
That bow to each other;

Love with the moon has ascended,
Has fed on our solitary stems;

And we are now shadows
That cling to each other,
But kiss the air only.



The Tree


THE ROOT has struck

A layer of rock;


The sap dries out in the stem


The blood dries out in the vein

Like sap


The Tree is taken from  Unpublished papers of Christopher Okigbo at



Lament of the Flutes



fold-over-fold free-furrow

mingling old tunes with new.

Tidewash.....Ride me

memories, astride on firm

saddle, wreathed with white

lillies & roses of blood.....


Sing to the rustic flute:

Sing a new note...


Where are the Maytime flowers,

where the roses? What will the

Watermaid bring at sundown,

a garland? A handful of tears?

Sing to the rustic flute:

Sing a new note...


Comes Dawn

gasping thro worn lungs,

Day breathes,

panting like torn horse -


We follow the wind to the fields

Bruising grass leafblade and corn...


Sundown: I draw in my egg head.

Night falls

smearing sore bruises with Sloan's

boring new holes in old sheets -


We hear them, the talkative pines,

And nightbirds and woodnymphs afar off ...


Shall I answer their call,

creep on my underself

out of my snug hole, out of my shell

to the rocks and the fringe for cleansing?

Shall I offer to Idoto

my sandhouse and bones,

then write no more snow-patch?


Sing to the rustic flute.

Sing a new note.





     Christopher Okigbo

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