SENTINEL POETRY #24   November 2004

Taking Life By The Throat by Emman Shehu
Continued from previous page

The resolve not to be overcome by the vicissitudes of life is perhaps best evoked in these lines:

                                              Don't attempt to bend me
                                              Your dark goggles cannot stand
                                              The rays of my aura
                                              And if I were to become a pulp
                                              on a garbage heap
                                              my soul shall rise. ( Heroes and Sheroes)

The spirit of defiance becomes the means of carrying 'the weight of living' (Altered) and even takes a steely edge when the situation calls for it:

                                            I will
blind my eyes
                                            to the beauty of your being
                                            I will
deafen my ears
                                            to the music of your voice
                                            I will
lock my heart
                                            To your charms
                                            I will
strangle the memory
                                            of you
                                            And I will
bury my desire

                                            What can I do with a grey ash rose? (Not a Red Rose)

Note how the words 'blind', 'deafen' 'lock' 'strangle' and 'bury', accentuate the mood of defiance. But it is defiance that is anchored on hope and that way, no room is given for despair to thrive:

                                                A long time can dispel this darkness
                                                With the wand of love
                                                A long time can wipe away
                                                these absences that eat away our hearts
                                                A long time can kiss death to stillness
                                                In the presence of blue flames (Blue Flames)

So hope is fuelled by eternal values like "love" and the acceptance of a greater being, or what the blurb writer describes as "higher consciousness".  In that sense the references to Ogun, Osun, Buddha, Karma and God are not unusual, and lines like "Believe me/I clutch my Bible/I lie like a Buddha/wishing for miracles" ("Altered") only serve to underscore the point. But the realisation and acceptance of that greater being becomes an important sense of strength.  Fear can then be confronted.

                                                My friends
                                                They tell me of a war
                                                Coming to an end
                                                the end
                                                I hear without listening
                                                Because I shelter
                                                in the awareness of
                                                He who is gentler
                                                even than love
                                                He who never goes to sleep (The Gulf Fear)