A poem dedicated to Leah Sharibu

By PHILIP EYAM-OZUNG

Whether we left

Our doors unlocked

Or had our homes

Violently broken into while we slept,

This moonlit and starry night

Of shared meals, drinks

And storytelling is despoiled

By masked intruders

Who take sleeping homeowners     

And their households hostage

Give us three wicked choices…

***

Stay home

To be robbed and raped…

Abandon our homes

With a promise

Never to return again…

Or pay ransom

To be allowed back

Into our homes

On the condition

We agree to pay more ransom 

As often as the intruders demand!

***

Who’s that rare genius

Who can outsmart

The combined devilry

Of blood-thirsty mercenaries, cultists

And sundry merchants of death

Who have neither respect for life

Nor any fear of God or government?  

***

Whatever our choice

We’re in a choking bind

Surrounded by dark forces

Allied with faceless figures

Reputed to be more powerful

Than the king!

***

This evil alliance insists

On something more

After stripping us bare

Of all that we hold dear

Leaving us beaten, wounded, bleeding

Too weak to weep to the depth

Of our marrow-grinding pain

And our inconsolable sense of loss

Of all that makes us

Who we are! 

***

But our biggest loss is our king

Who has not only left us

At the mercy

Of all the dark forces

Arrayed against us

But remains aloof

As dare-devil cultists, mercenaries

And unforgiving merchants of death

Overrun our hearts, hearths and homes

Ruin our farmlands

Repeatedly sending us

On genocide-type mass burials

That have turned our community

Into the Land

Of those most senselessly murdered

And countless hunted and haunted survivors

Who are mostly little or nothing better

Than the walking dead!

***

Our biggest loss is our king

Who has also brought upon us

The ill omen of seeing him

Without his crown

And rather than prove

Safe custody of the crown

By his sincere repentance

Of his strange idling on the throne,

Insists on tempting us

To provoke the wrath

Of our ancestors and gods

By granting his prayer

For a second coronation

With a new crown!

***

Who will tell the king

That true kings

Are never crowned

More than once

In a lifetime?

***

Who will tell the king

That his coronation

Was never the reason

For his enthronement

Nor his signature helpless lament

The charm offensive

That attracted the kingmakers

To his side?

***

Who will tell the king

That the prayer of all survivors

Is for the return

Of our homes, our streets

And our farmlands

Where we can search

For our lost whetstones

And whatever ruins can offer us

To light fresh fires

Where we can cook

Those mystical meals

That are best known

To rekindle hope,

Ignite new dreams

***

The least a king

Who refuses to rule

Can do

Is return the crown

To the kingmakers

And along with it

Our remaining hostages

And defiled corpses

Of the many innocent souls lost

To his most inexplicable

And tragic abdication! 

*

Eyam-Ozung writes from the United States

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