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Poetry

The Gangster Poets of Ajegunle

by UMAR ABUBAKAR SIDI

for the Junkman of Africa & for Eriata, Dagga & his gang

They break the chains of the psych ward in Ajeromi General Hospital, they let loose their brethren: poets in various clinical stages of derision disguised as “special patients”

They wear broken helmets, multi-coloured head warmers & silk scarfs, they walk beating drums and chanting: You said you reached sir, but he didn’t have no peace sir, in the belly of the beast sir, Diallo- Diallo- similar to Steven Biko, Diallo-Diallo

They raze down the buildings & re- engineer the architecture of brothels, the dance hall is now freedom square where “Rolling Dollars” is the supreme belligerent: wakere si nomba wa, wakere si nomba wa, wakere si nomba wa, the courtesans take on the magnitude of weight – the Buxom is Lagos, a whale being butchered alive by hunters & alcoholics – the little black Madonna is Warri, a water goddess deprived of the elements of desire – Katsina is the smoking beauty in heels – Green hair is Maiduguri, an old haggard weaving a blouse of skulls – the albino with a half breast is Abuja – Port Harcourt is mother with the crown of lice

They gather a congregation of faithful, they read sermons collected from dialogues in childhood, they draft a constitution for poets & people

                    A User’s Guide for the Brothels of Ajegunle

               a poet is a gentleman who cannot be drunk, hence the words

               drunk, drunken should be expunged from the dictionary of poets

               all visitors to the brothel are equal

               all transactions are to be made without the exchange of money

               in line with the principles of the New Republic

               making poems is prohibited in the decompression chambers of love

               the thigh is not a metaphor

They tear down billboards showing Klimtz’s The Three Age of Woman, which they consider offensive to home-grown feminist ideals, they burn the last page of the Communist Manifesto & throw the ashes in the judgement hole of Osiris, they wear the face of spirits, they blow hot air into the mouth of flutes:

               We gather, together

               To get together,

               Mek all of us come together

               We carry pain for bodi

               I see person siddon for road

               dey cut him bodi

               Pain & suffering no wan leave am

               Dey don pay permanent rent for him bodi

They declare Shakespeare’s sonnets, a rickety contraption for trudging snowy hills, they say Wittgenstein is a philosopher for the language of snails, Eliot is not Eliot, they guillotine the head of Beckett & place it on a spike in the middle of Wema School of Drama, they say,

                    We will not wait for Godot!

                    Darkness has no heart

                    Poetry is shit

                    full stop (.)!

Umar Abubakar Sidi, a naval helicopter pilot, is the author of The Poet of Dust.

READ ALSO: Playing Avant-Garde or The Theory of Dream by Umar Abubakar Sidi

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