God of Poetry (excerpts)


I am the god of poetry
In the shadow of pagan poverty.

I antedate the Muses
And graven godlings of godsmiths
From alabaster Greece to mimic Rome.

I culture the spoils of empire
On the rotunda of metaphor
As legends juxtapose
Tokens and totems of the clash
Between museum and market.

I cast the idol of the word
By protean grains of the raw frontier
On the canonic core
Of the cosmic labyrinth.

(To Brigid O'Connor)

We forge an impossible nation,
An amalgamation bereft of imagination;
We lay waste crude inspiration
And dredge up gassy restoration:
Our vision bedims all creation.


The barbarian, Baba for short, swears by the rock:
"Make me the messiah lest the people perish!"
The roused kith and kin retort with scorn:
"The mad messiah becomes prisoner of the rock!"
The crackpot pulls a gun and wills his command:
"Ordain me the first citizen or I shoot!"
Summarily the sane subjects stoop and salute:
"Hail His Excellency, Dear General and Head of State!"
The gunman bestrides the rock droning a corny anthem:
"Exalt my democratic transition to life incumbecy!"
So the saints of sanity sing the stock song:
"Come down to the people, Emperor of Democracy!"
Baba the barbarian on the rock takes wing coughing:
"Up I go jetting abroad skies for foreign investment!"


(To Fela Anikulapo-Kuti)

Pass on the reefer:
Fellowship calls.
Share the hunger:
Poverty howls.
Cut out the hauteur:
And let the song be.
At the shrine,
God is a common man,
A tramp on trumpet
Blowing past span and season
Into the marrow of time.