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“Loneliness” + “Chairs” by Ebenezer Agu

“Loneliness” + “Chairs” by Ebenezer Agu

(after Rilke)

Paint me in rash colors—bright peach, brighter burgundy, 
pale yellow, running turquoise and violet. 
Make the canvas an effusion of tones
and leave the brush marks where the colors mix.

Hang me in the cold corner of your room,
close to where the walls meet.

Sketch the street at the break of dawn,
when the sky is grey and people are few on the street.
Shade the evening in a dull tone.
Sketch our childhood in faint streaks.

Rule out a table in rows and columns,
number each box for every abiding puzzle
and check the boxes that form clues in colors or shades.

What you seek is in things unnoticed or forgotten:
a lover’s eyes upon her mate at the other end of a crowded room.
Or the rain falling from a grey sky early in the morning,
the quiet of the world and of a lonely tree standing calm in the rain.


(after George Szirtes)

It is the cobwebs & dust that I mind,
the impermanent members of every unoccupied space,
not the chairs still sitting you out, arranged around the dining table,
in the same old debates that you rocked & knocked yourselves out with.

Everything around here wears your mark
& the things that can speak mimic you;
the empty sounds of this house, the suddenly ghosted spaces
following behind me all day; out on the street, the frogs working
tirelessly in their hoarse rendition until the loutish interference 
of a motorbike saws through their midnight tunes.

Along with the golden street lights, know that I keep watch for you,
I sing for all of you gone on your different journeys.

What if absence is all we’re meant to say
when we say estranged, lonely, longing, nostalgia?

Ebenezer Agu was born & lives in southeast Nigeria. He is a poet, nonfiction writer, and literary critic. He edited the poetry of the two issues of 14: An Anthology of Queer Art. He is the founder of 20.35 Africa and the editor-in-chief of its anthology series. Ebenezer also works in the field of creative economy as a culture, art, and gender expert with AU-EU Youth Cooperation Hub, a youth organization under the African Union and the European Union designing innovative projects to solve some of the common challenges facing Africa and Europe. 
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