Short Profile

Jekwu Ikeme is an Environmental economist, poet and public affairs commentator. He obtained his MSc and PhD from Oxford and De Montfort University respectively in the United Kingdom. He has had poems featured in Okike founded by Chinua Achebe, ANA Review – the official Journal of Association of Nigerian Authors, and a host of journals, newspapers and magazines. He is the author of two unpublished volumes. The first volume Encumbered we stand Akimbo is one long poem, broken into thematic units which are organically related. The poems featured here are from the second volume titled The Coming of Light (or The Crucifixion of Darkness).

 

Poetry

Nigeria

Confessions at noon 1   

 I, alone

with the flute of my prophecies

lie disheveled

in the womb of this-tress

cuddled

 by the debris of my dreams

cushioned

by the arches of the scabbard,

 the earth will bear witness

for it was, it is and shall always be,

it saw, it sees and shall always see,

and from it

stretches the umbilical

unto the amnion of fate.

 

I lie, submissive

soaked in the promises of dawn

waiting in the lore

blinking to the shore

groping for the lens of insight;

to read the lips of the wind

to pick armistice

from the armpit of time.

I lie easy,

with this muse hanging

on the knob of my gaol,

murmuring my longings

fluting my convictions

to the hearing of fate,

yet my nest is my thorn,

my conviction is my gaoler, for;

in the lie of the folly-age

in the longitude of foggy-thieves,

in the grain of this cry

I lie, waiting for the coming of light

hoping for the dawning of dawn,

 

yet we shall nip the bud of this wait,

we shall wake the noon

from the slumber of twilight,

we shall kick fade-wells

after dusk and eclipse

and we shall arch these verses

to pillar, the ascent of dawn.

 

Glimpses of light

 

Light is the smiling plumage of foliages

in the noon of the rainy season,

the sprouting of wings

from the flanks of desire,

the waking of a dream into the embrace of reality.

 

Light is the primate of the echo,

the breathing root of the mangrove,

the parched meat that gags the night.

 

Behold the rising pebble

in the circle of the palm

ascending steadily into the bowl of the mouth,

to quench the earthquake in the pit of longing,

that too is the light.

Mark the moon, remember the glitter of fireflies,

count the ripened smile at harvest time,

they too are light.

 

Ozone too is the light

for it is the ladder

through which the sun

descends to earth.

 

The light, this light is the unblinking presence of power

in the gullet of Kianji*,

the unfettered sprint of the gazelle

through the savannah of freedom.

 

Delight in the right is the light

 

Oh light

the shape of laughter

in the heart of success

the only bowl of amala

in a history of famine,

the last morsel of defiance

in the gut of Mandela.

 

Delight in the right is the light.

  

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*One of the hydroelectric dams that power Nigerian Electricity

Confessions at noon 2        

 

‘I do not want to go on being a root in the dark,

hesitating, stretched out, shivering with dreams,

downwards, in the wet tripe of the earth,

soaking it up and thinking, eating everyday.’

 

                                                             Pablo Neruda

 

……I want to be the shoot

 the sword of sunlight,

protruding, slicing, piercing

through the air of time

with the hilt of dawn.

 

I want to live these dreams,

to clasp the moon in my bosom

to soar beyond stars,

to glow, to grow,

to touch and be touched

by lightning’s many fingers.

 

I want to mediate the photosynthetic miracle

in the womb of shriveled leaves,

feeding the skeins and veins

with morsels of fertility.

 

I want to be the shoot,

hard with scars of gales,

dripping with the rain’s seasonal promises

burdened with regurgitated harvests.

 

I want to be the shoot;

the sword in the hand of Shaka,

the defiance in the gut of Mandela,

sticking out in the face of  seasons,

living its dream.

 

Reaffirmations

 

 After the growl of thunder

it is the rain

that unburdens the cloud

of its frown,

after the storm

it is rainbow

that uproots a wink

from the brow of the earth.

 

After the gestation period of daylight

it is the moon

that midwifes

the delivery of dawn.

 

In the gathering of nature,

where the gods take stock

of the burdens of fate,

it is the sun that records

the pieces of glimpses

in the iris of time.