(FOR WOLE SOYINKA AT 87)
At eight seven, your road
Is full of sacrifices on the bank
Of a suffocating stifling river.
And the vapour of vanity
Shy away from your blinding presence
Like the leaves of Itikoti shrine.
Daring deity of duels
Born into clamorous burnfire of struggles.
In parturition of nation’s hic – cup
Of gurgling gong tearing tyrants ears
Fainting and death.
Like elephant taking a walk in
The grassy anthills
You, Odogu Iselegu.
Masquerade of gorgeous guttural
Your voice lifts peasants stupor
What panegyrics will be poet – playwright.
Receive but thousand voices
In the womb of eighty – seven lines
You great deity of daily dawn.
Did we not say that
A billion candle light
Can’t go into the ring with the sun.
For you stay straight and solid
In the midst of meagre midgets
Railing, raving, throwing stones and shooting.
Into our oppressors camp
Thunder tightening tyrant’s territories
Retaliatory cannons wither at your whispers.
For your power pop – up peasants hope
You live a sacrificial life of eternal victory
Along love’s lamenting ladder.
Those who sold our country thought
Your life will be brief
Forgetting the charmed circle at your feet.
Those who caged us in their polo hole
Run helter skelter, at your vociferous tongue
That tore through marble palaces.
Your combat monkey – coat
Refuse to thread bare
Even as enemies within give you another.
Gear which you refuse
Demanding justice alone
Which is the first condition of humanity.
At eighty – seven your path
Is full of broken spears
That generations unborn will see.
You, that iroko tree that tyrants
Try to fall with headless machete
In that wee hour of hazy hotness
Feverish ferment in fuming forest.
For even in your nap
Memories can’t meander through
Your barricaded bounteous intellect
In the breezy breathless barn.
Your voice was heard in
Masquerade gathering in the spirit world
As they salute, your baritonic voice.
The voice of a daring deity
Direct sun of Ogun
The god of thunder.
The sun is rising
The wind and his son, the whirlwind
Welcome the returning eagle
The sky celebrates your soar.
In this tumultuous time
Now your hands on the plough
You elbows dipped in the sweat
Of a painful labour.
Refusing to quit
In the draining strength
Of your aging toughness
The wind brings a consoling catechism.
Too soon, the withering words
Would challenge your strong voice
Their press releases inept and futile
At eight – seven your face shines.
Wrinkleless in this commanding height
Of Olomo rock
Staring at Aso rock
Eye- wink duel
Let our people be the arbiter
Of this combative combat of kolocume
- ©Azua Alonu,
is a Nigerian poet and writer.