Ojaide's "Quatrain Suite" Continued from Previous Page


When the migrant birds return, how will they know
their homes from others in the wilted dominion?
If they stray from the native soil, pity the winds rid
of compass stopped before skyscrapers nobody lives in.


The salt flats iodized, I can't fish my memory
for those eggs that if hatched ought to fill the palate.
The sky splashing acid on faces and naked bodies, there's
nothing born on land, water and air without deformities.


My memories chase out the army of poachers.
In their green outfit of old seasons they restore
the tattered map of the country, since the starving
among us trip over carcasses they won't even touch.


The iroko knows not how it can survive an iron era
to welcome eagles to its crown. I don't know either
with globalization a category-5 hurricane its direction
cannot be forecast. It leaves litters in an insane trail.

The map of my homeland has changed.
The cartographers blot out forests and rivers.
Oil wells and flares dot the new landscape--
nobody now recognizes the beauty queen's face.


The primeval inhabitants of the land suffer
martyrdom at the hands of poacher lords
who blast them out of their na´ve existence.
The Niger loses draughts, mirrors, and majesty.


The rich among us used to boast of the many barrels
of palm oil they produced in the season of industry.
Then came spills and flares that burned out palm trees.
Today the government and Shell toast their oil fortune.


I ask for the reed in the tide, the resilient spirit
bending but never falling; the slim one
that relishes its God-given supple limbs.
Just another casualty dragged down the slush.


apiapia cries soulfully, flying over its former haunt:
"It's another planting season and what a cheerless sight;
hardly any farmers!" They fled to be servants in the city.
Who blames bird or migrants, the soil one large crust?


Green's now a scarce commodity in the rain forest.
Evergreens bald, every head bowed in disgrace.
No season grows back leaves flared or plucked
& the cycle of self-succeeding generations dies.

Quatrain Suite Continues