I ask you wait; I need to carry some weight
Bringing sexy back; can’t afford to be late
Feed your soul more; though you already ate
They say life is a storybook; let’s turn the next page
If marriage is a trap you’re an attractive bait
But you do run well, so set the pace
You tired of men who can’t see past your face
Only interested in the weight below your waist?
Iyanya was honest at least; thank God for grace
Two hearts intertwined.
This heart comes with responsibilities; can you take the weight?
Lying/laying and crushing on you at this rate?
Love is from the inside out; don’t hesitate
These lyrics feed your muscles, you can handle whatever without struggle.
Poetry. Poetry. Poetry.
Beyond a doubt the art form is experiencing a resurgence like nothing before. Is it coincidence that the NLNG Prize decided this year (2013) to reward poets (congratulations to Tade Ipadeola, winner)?
Following in the line of Iquo Diana Abasi Eke (Symphony of Becoming, NLNG Prize Nominee) & Su’eddie Agema (Bring Our Caskets Home who also has a blurb on this book), Orange Crush Prize for Poetry 2012 Winner Kukogho Iruesiri Samson conversly asks the question ‘What Can Words Do?’
In this tale…
cold ovens bake bread,
earth fights itself,
tongues fool thumbs,
men chew seeds of discord,
they forget how to live.
There, a poet finds himself,
facing death with tears,
he looks love in the eyes
…and finds God.
It is hard not to wonder what informed the above – and then wonder; indeed, how dough would become bread without heat?
Or is the poet asking another question entirely?
Following Kukogho gets tricky at times – but not because of language or obscurity on his own part. He comes across as a conscious poet; which means this moment you may find him waxing enthusiastically about fresh-love’s carefree nature (Souls Adrift), the next moment he’s inspiring Nigerian activists to occupy (We Shall Occupy) which gives a sublime dating to some of the poems – but detaches from their messaging not in the slightest.
As you go deeper within the book (spoiler alert) you will come to find that the book is split in sections; each section introduced by a poem started from a line from the introduction. In case you find that confusing, check the following examples:
cold ovens bake bread
who can bake
after the heat
in the oven
is long gone?
‘Cold ovens bake bread…‘ being the first line from the introduction and hence; forms an introduction to the first section which is filled with an expression; mostly of frustration with relationships gone wrong. Wedded and Weeded is a narrative of the joys of the wedding day, that then lead to unhappiness and eventually – DIVORCE.
A quite familiar path these days it would seem.
What I enjoy most about Kukogho’s writing is his constant smattering of local vocab in his writing. My favorite piece; incredibly hard to choose though it is, is Eni Binu Mi; a yoruba phrase that means ‘The One Who Hates Me’ literally and is usually followed with threats and even curses. The poet decides to leave the bulk of his as threats, delivered fluidly in a coherent mix of Yoruba and English, a sweet menagerie of words. The Baby is another show-stealer, a piece about arguing parents from the hungry baby’s perspective. Hilarious.
What Can Words Do? does not spare anything in answering its own question, gorging itself plentifully; almost excessively on fanciful words. But don’t let that touch you – even though words are the swords of poets, very rarely have they been used so powerfully, expressively and poignantly.
What Can Words Do?
A lot, obviously.
Available where good books are sold.
Click here to read The Seven-Year Orgasm I
Their colleagues were completely blown over by the Tiwa who came back from Abuja. But the bigger surprise was Segun whose life became a mantra consisting two words.
It was all their colleagues could do not to allow their mouths drop open in the banking hall as they averted the sparks flying between the two. They did try to keep it on the low; banking policies being what they are – but they couldn’t help themselves sometimes.
When Segun took Tiwa to his parents his daddy hugged her tightly and said; with tears in his eyes, Welcome home my daughter.
Segun’s mum, however was less welcoming.
As soon as things calmed down a bit she took her son to her room, sat him down and bared her breasts.
Segun; she asked the confused man, are you sure you suckled these breasts?
Yes ma, Segun answered. What are you doing?
Then don’t marry that woman. I beg of you – don’t marry her.
Segun became even more confused. What do you mean ma?
His mother went silent.
In a daze, Segun walked past his father who was entertaining Tiwa with bawdy jokes and out of the house. Probably to see his friends in the neighborhood, his father told Tiwa when she asked where her boyfriend was going. He grew up in this neighborhood after all.
Segun’s mum came out of her room and joined the discussion, smile on her face looking as though she was auditioning for a Close-Up commercial. The conversation went on, and Segun was forgotten.
A loud scream brought the Adeyemis and their visitor to their feet. The man scrambled outside rapidly, followed closely by his wife and then Tiwa.
Adeyemi senior almost collided with the security guard who was wailing and trying to talk and waving his arms all at once. Impatiently the older man shoved him aside and ran through the open gate and into the street outside.
It was the red.
There was so much blood the honorable Engineer Deacon Femi Adeyemi thought he was standing, looking over a Sea of Red. And then, slowly, as though listening to music through earphones whose wires had cut internally, all the sound faded into the background as his sight zeroed in on the body lying in the centre of the Sea.
It was Segun.
A thin, keening sound cut through the air with the shrillness of a virgin fire alarm. The honorable Deacon didn’t hear the scream; standing calmly as he was, Blackberry Z10 firm in his hand like it was a General’s staff of office. His wife and ‘almost’ daughter-in-law were kneeling beside Segun, the former’s dry lace boubou becoming red within instants of his head touching her thighs. The gates of their house were thrown open and the deacon’s Benz came screeching out, driver at the wheel. Gently but swiftly Segun was placed in the backseat, head cradled by his father and the car zoomed off, leaving his mother and Tiwa covered in dust.
The older woman looked at the younger one, fear, hatred and condemnation in her eyes.
And then, without a word, she turned on her heel, entered the door of the second vehicle the gateman held open for her. The car sped off.
The left corner of Tiwa’s mouth twitched. It would seem, to any close observer, that all sorts of light went off in her eyes. But the ‘close observer’ would shake his head, and look again and see nothing but an incredibly attractive girl with tears streaking down her face, worry for her lover lining her features.
It wasn’t a movie after all. Eyes don’t ‘gleam’. Not in real life anyways.
So the observer would watch as she got into her own vehicle and sped after the departing vehicles.
A hundred and twenty-one days later, Tiwa became Mrs. Adeyemi Junior officially.
It was quite the affair – the entire wedding deserved its own edition of ThisDay Style. The geles and the caps were such that people could get free Wi-Fi on their devices. The geles particularly were spectacular – multicolored plumes nodding this way and that, bowing majestically like a flock of giraffes heading to graze. All sorts of glitter and bling blinded people who were unfortunate to have left their shades at home; glimmer from jewelry riding on sausage-roll thick fingers and elephantiasis necks – jewelry almost lost in valleys of death; also referred to as ‘the cleavage’.
There was nothing lawfully edible that wasn’t available…there was too much to eat and drink.
In short, it was an event.
The best part was when the bride and groom came out to dance. Segun, a small scar marring the perfect symmetry of his face, beamed proudly as he handed his wife down from their seats on the ‘high table’. Then the band kicked in high gear and the gentle opening strings of D’Banj’s ‘Fall In Love’ tugged the strings of many a shriveled heart; nudging a lot of feelings and emotions to life.
The couple started to move.
It was hard; watching that evening, to think that union was borne of anything but love. Pure and innocent.
They were like water flowing from a bottle into a cup; taking to each other’s movements as naturally as a child takes to breastfeeding.
At some point, Nature itself held its breath to watch, setting sun casting a soft ambience over the couple. Some other couples looked at each other, memories long buried underneath piles and piles of paperwork, bottles of alcohol and human bodies resurfacing. Several women clutched at perfumed bosoms, mascara running from tear-streaks and whispered prayers. Others looked at the bride and wondered if she deserved to be so lucky. Others still…
After a lifetime of ten minutes approximately, Tiwa collapsed in her husband’s arms, splendid chest heaving, trembling lips surrounding to his in unbridled passion. The guests, who passions had been stirred, stood up and roared in applause.
And at that moment, two hearts broke.
Two hearts as far apart as the ages of the people they belonged to.
The oldest heart belonged to the groom’s mother, sitting on her esteemed seat, softly touching her eyes with her white handkerchief cleaning what people wrong assumed were tears of joy.
The other heart belonged to someone who had known Segun for almost as long as he’d known himself, someone who cared for him almost more than was humanly right. Someone who had carried a torch for him in her heart for over twelve years.
Banks flow overflow with memories
No. A Baptism
Pleasant metaphors. Words. Euphemisms.
Shaking. Slaking of thirst in prison
Wondering. Wandering. One dying.
That something; the something that always pops up where you’re about to make a really stupid mistake popped up at the same time Tiwa’s caramel breasts jumped out of the azure bra and into his face.
The something said you’re going to regret this.
The other something in between his legs answered; regret is so overrated.
Segun hesitated. His right hand didn’t, reaching and grasping a left appendage that was both firm and soft at the same time.
There’s no clearer way to illustrate contradictions than with a woman’s body; he thought.
And with that, the busybody something shut up.
It hadn’t been easy; turning Tiwa down routinely. No one agreed with his decision; everyone seemed to think he was mad and so on because Tiwa was…Tiwa wasn’t the kind of girl a regular guy turned down. To quote Jide the office jester; my guy, you wan leave Vitafoam go dey sleep ontop mat?! You dey mad?
And Segun wouldn’t argue. So as far as appearances, he was indeed mad.
He also was the only one who understood how his skin came alive whenever she was near; came alive with unsavory sensations. How it seemed as though it was trying to get away from his skeleton – run away and keep running. He couldn’t explain it.
He almost got in trouble too. Trouble with the boss who thought part of his responsibilities was opening branches between the thighs of new female recruits – ugly or otherwise; and resented anyone who argued. He had called Segun into his office one day and told him without mincing words; Segun, if you like your job here you’ll leave that girl alone. You hear?
Segun nodded and slammed the man’s office door on his way out. What the hell?
Everybody knew he was not interested in Tiwa. Something told him constantly to stay away from her and he listened. Besides, there was that knowledge that at least two guys had had their way with her at work.
At least two. The MD and one other person.
He did not like leavings. So he stayed away from Tiwa as much as he could. Which wasn’t much; considering he had to walk past her desk every day to get to his cubicle, but he was thankful that he got to close his door and shut out her leering visage.
He really didn’t like her.
So he pretty much ignored Tiwa and minded his business. And then came that afternoon that changed everything. Everything has far as he and Tiwa were concerned. But it was interesting to note that neither he nor Tiwa had anything to do with what happened that day.
At least, not at first.
Apart from her out-and-about sexuality, Tiwa was quite brilliant. She was efficient in her department and she was well-liked by the customers. Many-a-time people turned back because Tiwa wasn’t available.
So it only followed that when the head office asked for two people to train, the MD sent Tiwa and Segun to Abuja. Tiwa because she earned it, and Segun because he was the head of his department.
And so they went.
And Segun began to see Tiwa in another light – watching her presentation after presentation and her obvious genius came through. He still wasn’t interested in sleeping with her – but he grudgingly began to respect her. Even though he asked himself if she’s this brilliant why does she sleep around?
There was no answer.
Their fourth day in Abuja classes ended early – and so they were back at the hotel a bit after four. Segun was bored, and even Watsapp with his best friend Hauwa didn’t help. It occurred to him that he hadn’t seen much of Abuja.
Hauwa said Why don’t you be nice and take Tiwa out?
He was going to argue – but then he paused and thought about it. Why not?
So he made arrangements for a car via the hotel and called Tiwa via intercom. She was pretty excited about it and told him she’d be ready in thirty minutes.
At exactly thirty minutes his intercom rang, and he went to her room to get her – and the sight of her shocked his jaw away from his mouth.
She wasn’t showing any unnecessary skin, she just looked really beautiful – the kind of beauty bankers take for granted because all they see each other in is suits. She looked like the last spoon of a favorite meal. Good.
He said as much as she gave him her hand. She smiled, lowered her eyes coquettishly and whispered thank you.
Their driver was an old man and a tour guide as he took them around – showing them Aso Rock from a distance – and then Zuma Rock which was the centre of a debate between the FCT and Niger State – as to whose borders it fell behind. And then Churchgate, the tallest building and its under-construction competition – the new Towers.
Somewhere along their journey it became the most natural thing for Tiwa to cuddle up with Segun, and he hadn’t fought her. In fact, he found it quite pleasant. They talked about this and that – him talking to the top of her head and she responding to his midriff. At some point however, she missed a remark he made and looked up, asking him to repeat himself. He looked down and found her lips tantalizingly close…
The cliche happened.
He would remember later…much much later, thinking at that moment where his feelings of revulsion and disgust went to. But in that moment, even though it occurred to him, it came as a by the way kind of thing, something out of the deep well of his subconscious mind. So he paid as much attention to it as a lion pays grass.
Calmly, Tiwa took her lips away from his and asked the man take them back to the hotel. And then, his thighs took the weight of her legs and they resumed kissing.
Imagine the receptionist’s surprise when the couple they had been speculating about, gossiping and even praising came in tangled with each other like hair on a hairbrush. She watched as they maneuvered their way cleaning past her desk and into the corridor – and quickly picked up the intercom to announce the event.
Before they came up for air, they were on Tiwa’s bed and both of them were wondering the same thing from different angles. Tiwa giggled cutely, pushing Segun away. Let me dress more appropriately; she intoned.
He had another moment, another calm period as he looked around the room and wondered if he was doing the right thing. And then Tiwa reappeared and rationale thought vanished like these words when you close your eyes.
His heartbeat steadied as he kissed her, arms wrapped around her body like they belonged there. Gently he lay her down and divested her of what little covering she had left. And then he lay with her, two bodies working together for a common goal.
Or so it seemed.
Segun was having the time of his life, floating on a soft, rhythmic bed feeling like he was being massaged from the inside. There was a bright spot somewhere in the distance, a bright spot that got progressively bigger as Tiwa’s noises got louder. He lowered his head, silencing her with his lips till the feelings got to him too and the muscles in his lower back and thighs slowly tightened and he was suddenly swept in a wave towards the white-hot spot that had grown so big it was the only thing he could see…
That was the last thing he remembered for seven years.
No. She’s Not Mine
We’re just siblings of a kind
But I’m blessed I met her
Before I left the earth
Not everyday you meet people with unspoilt hearts
We’ve all been through so much; carrying souls black as hearth
Through it all, she maintains a crooked smile,
Braveheart; now that’s a roofless sky
So I pray
More genuine reasons to smile go her way
God grace shows her His way
His will and kindness over her life; hold sway.
Happy Birthday, Nneka.
Many, many many things go bump in the night.
But not all of them are bad.
In the exact same vein, several things go bump during the day.
But not of all them are good.
Take for example.
The first time he bumped into her along the beverage aisle, the first thing that came to his mind was that she was firmly made. They mumbled their apologies and walked in opposite directions.
The second time he bumped into her, it was in the perfume section. It was awkward – but they smiled at each other and he joked about it, a joke she laughed politely to. Her eyes spoke to him where her lips didn’t – they suggested to him that he was lingering so he cleared his throat and took his exit.
When he found himself behind her on the checkout line, he knew he had to do something. He thought about how to get her attention without it appearing as though he was or had been stalking her. As they drew nearer and nearer to the exit, he discarded scenario after scenario, his mind scurrying frantically trying to get out of the uninspired creative maze he found himself in. Nothing came.
And just when he was about to give up, her elbow moved suddenly, knocking the bottle of McDowell’s he was carrying almost negligently from his hand. Her gasp sounded very erotic to him, and he smiled to himself as he stooped to pick up the bottle.
“It’s not broken,” he enthused, grinning into her confused face.
She smiled at him, relieved. He smiled as the relieved look became one of recognition. “Seems I keep bumping into you, or is it you into me?” she asked, guileless eyes shining smoky darts in his direction.
“As long as some bumping’s going on, I don’t care who’s doing it,” he answered. She grinned wickedly.
It was a delight for him to walk behind her, particularly watching the way her hair gently lay on her shoulder. He was sure it was a weave-on, but it was stuck so cleanly to her head he couldn’t see what her own hair looked like – not that it mattered anyway. It gave him a tickle the way the loose strands at the end of the weave stirred and slumped in the air-conditioned atmosphere. It was so erotic, so sensual.
It was the most natural thing in the world to buy her a drink. They sat underneath the area’s mallam drank Ribena and Sprite from cans and spoke about things like Sesame Street, things like Fraggle Rock and Voltron and NTA 2 Channel 5. At the beginning he was constantly looking at the time, but when he noticed she didn’t care he stopped bothering.
Like taking a walk; one foot after the other, so did their conversation advance from safe topics onto ‘dangerous’ ground. He found himself answering her questions about his erotic hot buttons and what nots, found himself paying too much attention to the third button of her blouse – the only obstacle; or so he thought in the cesspool he called a mind, the only obstruction to his discovery of the color of her unmentionables. He didn’t think she observed him observing it – hence his shock when the index finger of her left hand suddenly found itself tangled with that button.
“Will you help me?” she asked him, gamine eyes tickling some parts of him he couldn’t name. He nearly stumbled across the bench to her side – and as he bent over to ‘help’ her, she grabbed the back of his neck and kissed him.
He could swear there was steam rising from his ears as he tried to match her twist for twist – and then suddenly she pushed him away, stood up and grabbed his hand.
“Where are we going?” he asked the moment his lips untangled themselves from his tongue and teeth.
“My house,” she replied firmly in a voice that brooked no argument. Not that he wanted to argue.
And so she led him to her house, fully expecting to have her way with him.
And he followed her willingly, expecting to have his way with her.
Both of them were wrong.
“With persuasive words she led him astray;
she seduced him with her smooth talk.
All at once he followed her
like an ox going to the slaughter”