Four Poems: Afam Akeh

By Afam Akeh

After dinner

At the glass-eyed moment after grub
we repair to black holes and
dark matter, he as host holding forth.
Something wilts, as when a yawn arrives.
George Street in movie colour
beyond our window. Everything swings
out there, hanging loose, screaming
embrace, embrace, embrace.

All the time we speak they kiss.
Still we fly, here, there, ranging eagles
of the afterword. I am thinking salmon,
salad, whatever was dressed and lovely
on my plate. All that fare deserves
its response, so I loosen ready to give it.
At the moment of a rare pause, I
let out my air and do not regret.
It is a way of meaning without speaking,
the gut surfeit, offering thanks
but without words.


The cartoon clouds are up again.
They seem at peace with the absent sun.

Sights and sounds from the moving day,
remembrances of things once heard.

Bird on ground testing flight,
between desire and achievement.

What does the moment say
to its latest breath?

I am pleased to meet you.

I like you fresh, unbuttoned,
almost without mystery.

Stay, please stay.

Away from here you are never only you
because you are always history.

Summer and Snow

The kind of ragged day it is
wakes and slips back, wakes
and slips back into gloom,
everything seemingly weather
or ether, arctic cold
and lashing wind, such a day
as move some to love
or thoughts of last things.

In the damp light I grope
the years in search of us.
Every time
I seem to hold you
light eludes me,
storms break
and all is war memory,
wind and water.

We lost our warmth
to the German cold, tracking
Goethe and fellow gnomes
when all we needed
was a pocket map.
But – all that travel
and blister, was it
for Goethe or gold?

Nearly twenty, our years
as Summer and Snow.
We are the complex of water
in the mix with air,
forming cloud,
performing bubbles, and
in all that drama,
chemistry and mystery.
Billy Boy

They gnaw at you, those how tos
and how nots of coded practice.

Being so. And not so.

The curve on woven curve
of calligraphy, tailored

and primped
like a ballroom dance.

Life as a synchronised sport,
timing your move

with his move or her mood,
so much to void, avoid,

taming passion
with logarithm, stacking it right.

Like – Happy faces everyone. Chin up.
Say cheeeese!

Like – Sit here Billy. Go Billy. Come Billy.
Come back now! Good boy-y-y…

Billy so fed up
he lets drop wherever, whenever,

stinking to silence the orchestral voice –
Not here, Billy, not h-ee-rr-e!

Bad form Billy…

And that’s crude, not trained,
being so forward with your hunger.

You Billy-too-obvious,

squirting your smell for all to find,
the joy of craft is concealment.

I be ze craft – Woof! Woof!

Billy out again without a leash – Mad Billy,
Bad Billy – Rotten Billy Poop-a-Scoop.

A graduate of the University of Ibadan, Afam Akeh has fought two career currents for much of his life: the tussling rivers of Poetry and Literary Criticism. Concerning the first, his poetry has won awards: there was his 2nd prize in the BBC Arts for Africa Competition back in 1988. That was for his Poem, Nectar, published in Fate of Vultures and other Poems, (Heinemann). Concerning the second, he has worked in Lagos as Editor of the Times Literary Supplement on the staff of the Nigerian Daily Times.


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