Remi Raji


I Was Forbidden To Say My Name…


I was lost once at age nine, after the music lanterns went home

And the police in khaki shorts found me along the rail track

The music lanterns, or was it the singers who deserted me

on those snaky, hilly routes south and north of my ancestry

After the war, I was lost on my own battlefield

I walked through the landmines away from home

A new sight, a different world even in desperate hours

dead to the divorce of lights and darkness

Then I reached the road's end, where the rail track began

The policeman kidnapped my long journey to nowhere

I was forbidden to say my name to strangers

But I croaked a generation’s praise-names as code; I was found!

Wizened with father's fury, I learned the track and the path

Now I know the route to take when the song ends...

I will never know the man who didn’t take a bribe to show me the way.


In Memoriam: Lagos


Suppose the river appears to you

In the shape of taps, or that the sun is awake

All day in the rays of unquenchable lights

Suppose your streets leap with magic

The colour of tar and hexagon marble

The calculus of the spider’s web,

A delta of trains and trams.

Suppose your lagoon and lakes wear

The whiteness of love boats

Or by the beach you can kiss

The mermaid without the fear of darkness…

And when you have danced day to lameness

Suppose you can choose your way home

In the predictability of the hour,

Still unfurled to the purple smell of night , …

And suppose you’re not proscribed to many dead ends of the road

Suppose you are what you are not, dioxide virgin of phosphates.


A Butterfly Song


I who have seen this far,

Blinded by the friendliness of the cosmetic sun

But stretched back into darkness

Battered by the bloodless teeth of the rain

Still thirsty through the pool of flooded days

I am the cage. I am the world.

I am the world, the open cage.

I am proof of the ignorance. I am the pain, and the sore.

But I am also the healing, the unspoken history of scars.

I have returned, away from the breathless cologne of night

Dirty, traduced by the ugliness of the ape story

I am the butterfly in the open field of thorns

I am the cold anger in the friendly handshake

I have returned, tears tainted with the glory of a new tomorrow

I returned,

Wondering into your presence

Wondering if you know how far I have seen.

I, Tiresias, the fool in a wise world.



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Sentinel Poetry #34

ONLINE MAGAZINE MONTHLY ...since December 2002

September 2005  ISSN 1479-425X

Editor: Amatoritsero Ede