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

TANURE OJAIDE

QUATRAIN SUITE

1

When wood copulates with iron,
the ax's born and groomed
to chop down more trees.
Suicide goes by many names.

2

We have plenty of baits but no fish in the water--
millions have been victims of decades of genocide.
Once earthworms begin to consume themselves,
the world would've run its cycle; a predator's paradise.

3

Something in the air casts the shadow
of a tree over the carcass of a warthog.
The misty-eyed sun stares belatedly
without seeing what lies on the ground.

4

The abundant tears of farmers flood
fishers' nets with shoals of smiles.
Tortoise: "if I had long legs to sprint!"
Deer: "if I had an armored suit to wear!"

5

The grownup spits out the breast milk
that once nourished his childhood--
there are fresh sources of nurture
after the weaning rite's done.

6

Throwing themselves into farming and fishing
inspired songs insulting laziness. The harder
the people worked, the more they exhorted
the season of leisure, laughter, and dance songs.

7

Bridges of childhood rot with age--fear overtakes
one on the way to God in the moon. In adolescence
Mami Wata substitutes for God and under the spell
of love-induced potion one writes letters in moonlight.

8

To have lived there when it was a different country
to have loved Mami Wata in her underwater palace of coral
to have had trysts with the moon in her days of full glory
to have tasted one dish and never wished for another. . .

9

Before he could finish building a boat to evacuate
the river dried up and horses galloped through to capture him--
in exile he remembers the moats of Benin did not stop swarms of locusts
from devastating the city and having their fill of blood and bronze.


Quatrain Suite Continues