Sentinel Poetry Magazine January 2003

Victor Ehikhamenor

Cobweb Roads

I stumbled on faces with no eyes
& hurrying spirits with icy looks
Spirits with swollen faces & dead eyes
I stumbled on them in a seven-junction road
During my escape from a time past
Running towards the river
River without water like a burnt frying pan
Without oil this river has been dead.

On these faces I stumbled
I see images of
Distorted faces full of bones
Without flesh, of skulls without brains
Of bigger cows devouring smaller cows
And the wheat of the field
Wither before my eyes;
Was this the fulfillment
Of foreign policy and prophecy?

All were escaping, men and women
Like a colony of fired ants, none waited
To answer one another's call.
Earth seems deeper than it was yesterday
Freshly dug graves redden my eyes like
Spilled palm oil, lonely mourners continuously
Stared at my hollowness and distance
Stretched a mile down empty farm roads.
Deserted market squares harbored
Excrements and carcass of the unknown.
Sheds and stores are littered with decay

Once upon a strong farmer has
Become another ghost accosting
Me with attempted handshake,
He did not go farther than his sinking heart
His smile evaporated through his tired brows
His soul gave to death, dead as the earth he once tilled
Now dry like
bonga fish
His hands melted to decomposing ashes
In mine as he told strangulated tales

He barely finished when the hooting began
Owls were bowing, vultures and bats
Were scavenging for termites' and locusts' leftovers,
Suddenly I realized supper
Was an unreachable dream
And kwashiorkor was a renewed fad.

The farmer with a flickering voice
Patted the back of my hand weakly and faded
To another spirit roaming street garbage
Struggling with rats and rat poisons for dinner.

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