SENTINEL POETRY #27 (ONLINE) MAGAZINE MONTHLY  - February 2005

EMMAN SHEHU

WHEN THE LITTLE MAN SPOKE

"
Adream or awake, they will encounter
the little man who asked, his pipe smoking,
only for freedom to be large enough
."
                                 Odia Ofeimun
                           
First Chant
                           
It was not to himself alone he spoke -
the near pint-sized man from the creek -
the little man and his pipe of sassy smoke

they took for a fictional persona,
or some twentieth century Don Quixote.
But he pressed on song after song,

larger than life on an assured podium,
astride a nation's doomed Eldorado.
And soon his songs became choice quote

of kindred spirits across the seas,   
wailing against the firm with the scalloped logo,
and its dreaded multinational kindred,

dolling death here and everywhere
as they sink rude rigs and drills of greed
unlike the meek sea creature they invoke,

breeding new malaria in the creeks,
a gift in the fashion of sly ancient Greeks
laying obdurate siege at Troy's gate.

The paradise promised by this black gold,
has become a flaming inferno of deceit
and a choking cauldron of despoliation.


Second Chant

It was not for himself alone he spoke,
watching nets rise from rivers barren,
withering plants on once fecund lands.

It was not for himself alone he spoke,
seeing black gold refined to petro-dollars
giving others bliss beyond his kinsmen's reach.

It was not for himself alone he spoke,
hearing sobs from hamlet to hamlet,
poverty anchoring on the land like a plague.

It was not for himself alone he spoke,
carrying on his small shoulder
like Atlas, a burden with a global weight.


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