A Dark Ghazal
Infernal pointsman destroying space-time
Shattering science in a million frissons of glass
This is the end of the fury, the mad scribbling
The chill of waiting to pen perfect lines
Whirlwinds rage on but I am innocent of dust
My imperfect lines throb as if they still live
The market yet pulses with life
I tell you
Fortitude and solitude are one
The same with wine and women and art
Cold mistresses teasing flames in temples
Parched with thinking, longing
Life shatters into a million frissons
I step out into the light
Kill the man in the mirror.
Suite of Blue
My days pass by like shoelaces
Dragging behind me, gathering sand
Wynton Marsalis plays but I cannot hear
I cannot hear it like I used to
A lynched cat swings with dead eyes
Popped out in the wisdom of knowing too late
The singularity of death; I pass on
I pass on, leaving some of me behind
I was never there, there are no prints
In the barrenness behind me, an orphaned
Seashell, thrust too far from claims of tide
I am not here, I am not. Where I used to be
Rows and rows of dead tulips weep in the sun.
Fairy girl like weathervane spins by the breaths of a sea
Arms stretched in a bow at red fingertips easily
As a Tamil naiad woven of elements, we spy her whirling
Of longing like to caress waves, to wind her oneness
With fatal shells lying doomed on shorelines, with lines
Of panicky crabs hastening unto a dumb sea of signs.
We laugh at this dream of safety, fossilized in lines, knowing
Sweet specters never kept from what calls without fail.
We turn to the call of cities that swallow their young
In yawns of grey concrete and high-rise dreamcages
Where organs toll requiems for friends whilst we weary with
Crafting poems into chronic stones as trick offerings to god.
But our dreams of flight fritter, clogged by alleys of alternatives
Fairies by seas spread open arms; Turn Here! We stay our curse
In memory of friends past, we know we too shall meet our ends
As all do fated too late, born too late, as all adjectives.
We sigh away to our carnages and let all these creep to the edges
Of poems, fade there with the Chimera, amidst maybe things.
Richard Ali (@richardalijos) is a Nigerian novelist, poet and lawyer. He has participated in various writing workshops across the continent and in 2012, he co-founded Parresia Publishers Ltd, which went on to publish great African voices including Abubakar Adam Ibrahim and Helon Habila. He was former Editor of Sardauna Magazine and of the Sentinel Nigeria Magazine. He currently serves on the EXCO of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) and on the Board of the Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation. He is a member of the Jalada Writers Collective.