“Sermon on the Mount of Enugu” by Femi Morgan

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Sermon on the Mount of Enugu

Where a man apes Mbaka
Curses the mankind of Lagos
Troubles the air
Of the street
And tells a story of Satan
In form of landlords.

The apparitions of greatness
Start with daring all to come
See his face
The other tongue is Igbo
A divine ‘otherness’
The mount is his mouth
His holiness is his Enugu accent
The sermon is about repentance

of the Biafrian war.

II

Jesus wept
The war of expletives rages
Before the ride out, before the muezzin, before the cock coughs.

The sun wakes to the hoopla
Of the day
No rest to the powerful.

When you live upstairs
you’re a beautiful Calabar woman
Married to a Yoruba man.

Out of the way of the sun
And the sermon stirs the preacher
For tomorrow
For a nostalgia narrative.

The morning births the blues of celestial churches
The hip hop of Pentecostal fervour
And the symphony of Catholic Mass.

A ‘perfect’ sermon seeks to be bland
Without a taste of rooted townships
But it cannot be

Jesus speaks in local proverbs
And waxes postcolonial
Jesus takes a stand with James Ngugi.


Prayers of the Road

The Prayer
In transit
Preachment like placenta
Disturbing the peace
English breaks a leg
As it glides in the fervour
Of song and prayer
With the interjections of the grinding tyres.

The bus is a stage
Reverse-proscenium
And we are the harangued audience
Members discovered by entrance
Names unknown
Fellowship dead
Brotherhood of fear.

III

Companion
In compact moving box
Waging the war of gallops manoeuvring the crossroads
Of yesterday’s feast
Reddish fear of prayers
Of the experience of Benin Ore Road
Washed by the amen rains.

III

Loneliness
Of a powerbike
In a rain.


Femi Morgan is the curator of Artmosphere, a leading Arts and Culture event in Nigeria and a co-publisher at WriteHouse Collective. He is a co-recipient of the 234Next Fashion Copy Prize and was longlisted for the BN Poetry Prize in 2015.