Sentinel Poetry (Online) #60 ISSN 1479-425X


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December 2007  - 5th anniversary issue l Poetry




The Devil Was At Mass This Morning


Brocade and lace on show; sundry cheers

Wax prints, washed jeans, city hats, country scarves


Hardly surprising, in view of Job

The vile presence in the pews at back


A rippling jolt in the incensed air

Snorts and hisses and spreading menace


Chocking the chorus out of Credo

Fanning distaste to blazing heights


The children of God had come together  

Among them as well was someone from Hell


With eyebrows arched, high as everyone’s

Known only by two and the angels too


But while the rows singed with all their sighs

Someone prepared for weekly Confession


God save my soul- it was I- mea culpa

Set free the genie that messed with Mass


Venial trespassing much unsettling

To rile the faithful in foul error


Bless me Father, for I have sinned

From leftover beans and stale palm wine! 


Deep And High


I am my grandfather

My father is my son

Grandma is my daughter

My mother is grandma

Of her mother who is

My daughter and grandma

My son smiles as I sing

This tune from ages past

When I nestled in his arms

And he, my strong able dad

Made this solo vocal run

Now the toothless smile is his

And the puckered brow is mine


His sister, once his daughter

Now mine, hums along with me

Such is our good fortune here

Changing roles in endless play

Rooted deep and branched so high

On the ageless stage of life


A Fabled Hour


Rice cake silvery hued

floating past a darkly sky

drops into mud patch


Stale pool a-glowing

hugs fast the flirting wonder

as lonely hearts sigh


A sad prince bewitched

feeling tug of summer tights

hops afar for mates


See! A spell bound night:

dancing fairies, cheering flowers

nude frogs frolicking…


Cake and cloud at play

hiding, seeking, find romance

in sky and clay glass


Where orchestras reign

and duets enduring turn ponds

to lakes alluring


But soon, or later

every thing dies: passions, seasons…

magic, most of all!



Hot In Harmattan


Kurundufi: gaping wound

from Enugu to Goldcoast

welcomed us from trials at home

to the back of Recreation Club


Devoured by play, we dared the pits

gliding down paper drum dreams

to treason land, where danger

marked the gaps in bad and worse


Two rivers mating had made

three lands divided from birth;

two colours blending, became

three strips joined by clever hands


Sputtering here was the melting pot,

spotless- the land and flag we hailed;

tongues differed at games alone

we had no teeth yet for bite!


The fables we heard, wondering

the yarns we spurn, believing

fanciful, as the gay kites

decorating our morning skies





Again and again, the rivers revolting

bathe the lands with raging mud

tugs of boisterous peace challenging

foist a twitch on the sleeping years


A prophesy came to pass in time

and the banner stained was rent

the eagle squawked for her wayward chicks

down at the slabs with vulture gangs!

Pause: let our dreams outrun the tale,

let dead hopes rising, reign afresh

and boiling sun from bloodied night

clothe in sparkling robes this grim day


Naked, our shuddering world was slain

but though the colours held the winds

a fourth estate wrought for harmony

failed to roost the elusive dove!


Sacred curses, magic words and wiles

worn prayers in church and out

the people take to the shores of faith

for this reason, perhaps, the poem endures…




Folly foiled at edge of noose,

the cheerful boast is everywhere-

pink tribute to fortune resilient:

God is a fellow countryman!


A spreading rash on the bum of time,

hiding under gorgeous rags

waits for a public hour

to rage aloud for bristles and balm


Catch a roaring fire, we did,

but the smoke was frozen cold

and parables dripping with ironies

fed our naked moonlight dance…


And the journey continues

but metaphors sauntering past

shooting stars in blazing day

declaim the humid plight


Of tsetse fly on scrotum perched

and oracles lost in doubt:

to swat the bug and spill the man

or let it be and he, just sleep?!  






Pita Okute







3 l 5 l 4



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