Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

Sequence (Of Desire)

Enlarge poem

Ajani.

Coursing my stream-
ing blood,

cutting my waves of resistance
I become

a stream, the stream,
flowing with no water
*
I am a stream with no course;
a maiden with charred beads;
memory of once-intense affection
*
Ajani.

The beads on my waist,
the heat of my passion,
the pleasure of my ache,

the memory of a
burn
ing groin.

The beads of waiting,
the beads of wanting,
the beads are weighty,

I wait.

My waist pines for your searing,
it is burdened by despised beads
which lightens in your admiration.

In your touch
my singed waist comes alive,
my beads become my flesh.
*
Ajani,
you are a kolanut,

My aftertaste of loin-tussle,
sweetness that follows bitterness.

There is no memory without you,
You are the store house of a quest.
*
When tomorrow asks for yesterday,
It is your name I call.

Ajani.
You are the gingling
aftertaste.

You are kolanut,
*
I taste you.
Do I linger on your tongue too?

Do I tingle?

When amnesia creeps in like surprise rain,
I touch you to remember.

Do you touch yourself to touch me?
Do you remember our touch?

Do you remember the name of fun?
The one we learnt when cast into
the world swallowed by grief.

I know you
Ajani
I learnt you
when we touch, I freeze.
*
I know your touch
I buried it inside…

You are the secrets of thumbprints:
there are no two Ajani.

If I could find another Ajani,
I would clean these cracked lips
and shut my heart from ache.

But the honesty of your fingers
are memoirs on my skin.

I know your touch, Ajani
it’s trapped within my pores
you are the lone memory buried
where fates are moulded into faces.

Your look-alike is emptiness,
your option is a fullness of hurting

I have no choice but you.
I am a memory of hurting
Ajani,
heal me…

I do not know where dreams go,
but I took caution when your footfalls
faded behind me after a drizzle of passion.

You have not stood the test of time,
our memories have. They are fashioned
into annulled-desires.

and now I am learning to gather me,
into a memorable song,
the chorus of echoing desires.
*
Your absence canes me into wanting,
So I’ve memorised your footfalls.

I know your footfall.
It is passion sketched on my mind,
it is the memoirs of drifting in my head.
*
I have befriended death

I have sown seeds of discord
at a timed vacation death is away
from me, from you.
*
What protects a man from death?
Memory? Is it memory of riddled riddles?

Or the memory that keeps a man from
remembering how not to swallow his soul?

Or the memory that keeps a man from remembering how not to swallow his soul?

Ajani.
You shall not die in your prime.
for I remember the name of death.
*
I have memory.

Even when the waters that wetted
our trees of desires dried.

I keep memoirs of flowering,
of budding and harvesting.
*
Ajani,
you have pinched my desires
I hold my breath
I am memory
*
Peel your pericarp of doubt
taste the conviction in our touch
and let your loins throb in memory.

Or have you tasted the likeness of our pleasure?
*
If the past were three-dimensional,
our yesterday was a composite volcano
exploding into a mass of questions.

It was not me
it was not your way,
it was the sequence of forgetfulness.
*
Ajani
remember when my ache(s)
troubled your sleep
til you wet yourself on me…
the love-mares in the deep of the night

your name
my face

your touch
my breathe

our eyes
my mind

those times, brightened visions…
*
Ajani,
my ambition is
to have your eyes in mine
to hold your hands and hope
to keep your lips on mine
to wear your heart in mine
and do nothing.
*
But, you confuse me
Ajani
you torment me

You are a haughty riddle!
*
Do I bite your thoughts?

Do you flip through the pages
of our unwritten meoirs?

I am a tendril
Do I rest on you?
*
It is time to ask that our memory
will not sink into hate

that evil shall pocket its own grief
that you lead and breed only the best.
*
You will not die in your prim,
may tongues that wag, not tramp you down.

Ajani,
we are not strangers. We are friends.
This world is a race, we’re a trace.
*
Ajani,
If you will not smile
on the banquet table
of rotund cheeks of ‘thieving’ politicians

Insincere friends with callous ways
smile for me, and bed peace
*
Ajani,
Let them talk till they wilt
I am your memory.

Jumoke Verissimo

Featured Poem:

The Rape (For the Niger-Delta, Nigeria)

Enlarge poem

This discharge; is it oil or blood?
or conscience pricking vulvas
into piles of mangrove guilt?

This discharge;
consuming hymens of virgin skies;
enraging, flaring splintered hopes.

This discharge,
from a fluid-less pen
is: oil or blood?

Releasing hate into sacred vulvas,
ruffian thrusts divest virgins of honour;
leaving strife-seeds on endowed-wombs.

Is it oil or blood that strained the foetus
from the wombaborting oracular
births, with cordless umbilical?

These days,
aged vulvas live in fear of perverts,

weakened thighs plead change from
violent thrusts on impotent will.

Vulvas with many-name contagions;
breed fear of unreached orgasm.

Smelly privates lack confidentiality,
they are a meal-time discourse.

These once-virgin thighs: over-raped
Plead for menopause…

*

Why does ambition in the
South-Southi go South-South?
Is it because they are in the South?

or because their vulva is looking south,
promises are heading south,
all is going down, getting drowned.

Their dreams go South-South
anger goes South-South
thoughts drift South-South
against renewal and contemplation.
Is it this oil or blood
that makes desires head South-South?

*

Here.
Deformed skills and tired anger,
molest dominant wills,
time speaks against the call of the oracle.

Why is MOSOPii – soppy?
Is it this oil: this blood
that has leeched its peak?
What is MENDiii – mending?
Is it this oil: this blood
that has bleached its own?

Is it the plea to head South-South
and meet patriots of better times only,

Those leeches
those boil companies,
those diseased, whose partner
ship, steers our blood to riot
those who steered Boroiv, Wiwav to no return.

Those woes
who sucked our rivers dry.

See what we have become
children from the same vulva,
see what we have become
see marsh, see river,

apart aloof
the river shies from the marsh
like they share no watery relations.

It’s time this oil be their blood;
and turn against them.

The sword disregards the smith in battle,
this blood will oil their joy to ache.

This oil will be their blood,
this blood is oil.

Those Rapists,
this birth will turn against them.

If you rig a condom to prevent procreation,
I shall burst its tip and yet make babies.
Rapist
if you do not copulate for affection,
you reciprocate past affliction.

This oil is blood,
this oil
this blood
will flow as it should flow.

This vulva must drip fresh blood,
our menopausal dream shall ovulate,
it shall menstruate;
not-clotted blood, blackened shame
sign of early aging and destitution.

This meddle in affairs on arrears
this oil
this blood
this what?
this confusion of signs and times…

This discharge of rot
that persists.

This seething anger has spilled
on our farms of hope,
in our streams of strength.

The untimely thrust in underage vulvas,
deflowered our ancestral affinity,
killing posterity and famished wills.

Now,
the raped vulva pleads for menopause,
oversexed vulvas beg for a sex-change,
against violence, your thrust on their impotent will.
i Description of a region of the south of Nigeria
ii Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP)
iii MEND: Moement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta
iv BORO: Nigerian, Niger-Delta activist
v WIWA: Ken Saro-Wiwa, Nigerian, Niger-Delta activist and leader of MOSOP, hanged on General Sani Abacha’s orders in 1995 with eight other activists.

The Rape (For the Niger-Delta, Nigeria) by Jumoke Verissimo

Download the audio file

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (6)
  • Pride (3)
  • Optimism (2)
  • Anger (1)
  • Delight (0)
  • Inspiration (1)
  • Reflection (2)
  • Captivation (3)
  • Peace (4)
  • Amusement (1)
  • Sorrow (0)
  • Vigour (0)
  • Hope (0)
  • Sadness (0)
  • Fear (0)
  • Jubilation (0)

Comments

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Biography

At age 7, her class teacher wrote on her mid-term report sheet, “Jumoke loves to write”. While that was just a teacher’s observation, it is one revelation that has remained true. Her love for words has never taken her far from it. She has worked as a printer’s clerk, assistant sub-editor, performance poet and journalist. Now working as a copywriter, she maintains a page in the Guardian Newspaper. Her poems and short stories have appeared in several magazines like Chimurenga, Bathtub Gin, Canopic Jar, Eclectica, Sentinel, African writing-online, Boyne Berries, Farafina, Kwani and several anthologies.

I am Memory is Jumoke’s first collection of poetry.

Jumoke Verissimo

Biography

At age 7, her class teacher wrote on her mid-term report sheet, “Jumoke loves to write”. While that was just a teacher’s observation, it is one revelation that has remained true. Her love for words has never taken her far from it. She has worked as a printer’s clerk, assistant sub-editor, performance poet and journalist. Now working as a copywriter, she maintains a page in the Guardian Newspaper. Her poems and short stories have appeared in several magazines like Chimurenga, Bathtub Gin, Canopic Jar, Eclectica, Sentinel, African writing-online, Boyne Berries, Farafina, Kwani and several anthologies.

I am Memory is Jumoke’s first collection of poetry.

Sequence (Of Desire)

Enlarge poem

Ajani.

Coursing my stream-
ing blood,

cutting my waves of resistance
I become

a stream, the stream,
flowing with no water
*
I am a stream with no course;
a maiden with charred beads;
memory of once-intense affection
*
Ajani.

The beads on my waist,
the heat of my passion,
the pleasure of my ache,

the memory of a
burn
ing groin.

The beads of waiting,
the beads of wanting,
the beads are weighty,

I wait.

My waist pines for your searing,
it is burdened by despised beads
which lightens in your admiration.

In your touch
my singed waist comes alive,
my beads become my flesh.
*
Ajani,
you are a kolanut,

My aftertaste of loin-tussle,
sweetness that follows bitterness.

There is no memory without you,
You are the store house of a quest.
*
When tomorrow asks for yesterday,
It is your name I call.

Ajani.
You are the gingling
aftertaste.

You are kolanut,
*
I taste you.
Do I linger on your tongue too?

Do I tingle?

When amnesia creeps in like surprise rain,
I touch you to remember.

Do you touch yourself to touch me?
Do you remember our touch?

Do you remember the name of fun?
The one we learnt when cast into
the world swallowed by grief.

I know you
Ajani
I learnt you
when we touch, I freeze.
*
I know your touch
I buried it inside…

You are the secrets of thumbprints:
there are no two Ajani.

If I could find another Ajani,
I would clean these cracked lips
and shut my heart from ache.

But the honesty of your fingers
are memoirs on my skin.

I know your touch, Ajani
it’s trapped within my pores
you are the lone memory buried
where fates are moulded into faces.

Your look-alike is emptiness,
your option is a fullness of hurting

I have no choice but you.
I am a memory of hurting
Ajani,
heal me…

I do not know where dreams go,
but I took caution when your footfalls
faded behind me after a drizzle of passion.

You have not stood the test of time,
our memories have. They are fashioned
into annulled-desires.

and now I am learning to gather me,
into a memorable song,
the chorus of echoing desires.
*
Your absence canes me into wanting,
So I’ve memorised your footfalls.

I know your footfall.
It is passion sketched on my mind,
it is the memoirs of drifting in my head.
*
I have befriended death

I have sown seeds of discord
at a timed vacation death is away
from me, from you.
*
What protects a man from death?
Memory? Is it memory of riddled riddles?

Or the memory that keeps a man from
remembering how not to swallow his soul?

Or the memory that keeps a man from remembering how not to swallow his soul?

Ajani.
You shall not die in your prime.
for I remember the name of death.
*
I have memory.

Even when the waters that wetted
our trees of desires dried.

I keep memoirs of flowering,
of budding and harvesting.
*
Ajani,
you have pinched my desires
I hold my breath
I am memory
*
Peel your pericarp of doubt
taste the conviction in our touch
and let your loins throb in memory.

Or have you tasted the likeness of our pleasure?
*
If the past were three-dimensional,
our yesterday was a composite volcano
exploding into a mass of questions.

It was not me
it was not your way,
it was the sequence of forgetfulness.
*
Ajani
remember when my ache(s)
troubled your sleep
til you wet yourself on me…
the love-mares in the deep of the night

your name
my face

your touch
my breathe

our eyes
my mind

those times, brightened visions…
*
Ajani,
my ambition is
to have your eyes in mine
to hold your hands and hope
to keep your lips on mine
to wear your heart in mine
and do nothing.
*
But, you confuse me
Ajani
you torment me

You are a haughty riddle!
*
Do I bite your thoughts?

Do you flip through the pages
of our unwritten meoirs?

I am a tendril
Do I rest on you?
*
It is time to ask that our memory
will not sink into hate

that evil shall pocket its own grief
that you lead and breed only the best.
*
You will not die in your prim,
may tongues that wag, not tramp you down.

Ajani,
we are not strangers. We are friends.
This world is a race, we’re a trace.
*
Ajani,
If you will not smile
on the banquet table
of rotund cheeks of ‘thieving’ politicians

Insincere friends with callous ways
smile for me, and bed peace
*
Ajani,
Let them talk till they wilt
I am your memory.

Featured Poem:

The Rape (For the Niger-Delta, Nigeria)

Enlarge poem

This discharge; is it oil or blood?
or conscience pricking vulvas
into piles of mangrove guilt?

This discharge;
consuming hymens of virgin skies;
enraging, flaring splintered hopes.

This discharge,
from a fluid-less pen
is: oil or blood?

Releasing hate into sacred vulvas,
ruffian thrusts divest virgins of honour;
leaving strife-seeds on endowed-wombs.

Is it oil or blood that strained the foetus
from the wombaborting oracular
births, with cordless umbilical?

These days,
aged vulvas live in fear of perverts,

weakened thighs plead change from
violent thrusts on impotent will.

Vulvas with many-name contagions;
breed fear of unreached orgasm.

Smelly privates lack confidentiality,
they are a meal-time discourse.

These once-virgin thighs: over-raped
Plead for menopause…

*

Why does ambition in the
South-Southi go South-South?
Is it because they are in the South?

or because their vulva is looking south,
promises are heading south,
all is going down, getting drowned.

Their dreams go South-South
anger goes South-South
thoughts drift South-South
against renewal and contemplation.
Is it this oil or blood
that makes desires head South-South?

*

Here.
Deformed skills and tired anger,
molest dominant wills,
time speaks against the call of the oracle.

Why is MOSOPii – soppy?
Is it this oil: this blood
that has leeched its peak?
What is MENDiii – mending?
Is it this oil: this blood
that has bleached its own?

Is it the plea to head South-South
and meet patriots of better times only,

Those leeches
those boil companies,
those diseased, whose partner
ship, steers our blood to riot
those who steered Boroiv, Wiwav to no return.

Those woes
who sucked our rivers dry.

See what we have become
children from the same vulva,
see what we have become
see marsh, see river,

apart aloof
the river shies from the marsh
like they share no watery relations.

It’s time this oil be their blood;
and turn against them.

The sword disregards the smith in battle,
this blood will oil their joy to ache.

This oil will be their blood,
this blood is oil.

Those Rapists,
this birth will turn against them.

If you rig a condom to prevent procreation,
I shall burst its tip and yet make babies.
Rapist
if you do not copulate for affection,
you reciprocate past affliction.

This oil is blood,
this oil
this blood
will flow as it should flow.

This vulva must drip fresh blood,
our menopausal dream shall ovulate,
it shall menstruate;
not-clotted blood, blackened shame
sign of early aging and destitution.

This meddle in affairs on arrears
this oil
this blood
this what?
this confusion of signs and times…

This discharge of rot
that persists.

This seething anger has spilled
on our farms of hope,
in our streams of strength.

The untimely thrust in underage vulvas,
deflowered our ancestral affinity,
killing posterity and famished wills.

Now,
the raped vulva pleads for menopause,
oversexed vulvas beg for a sex-change,
against violence, your thrust on their impotent will.
i Description of a region of the south of Nigeria
ii Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP)
iii MEND: Moement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta
iv BORO: Nigerian, Niger-Delta activist
v WIWA: Ken Saro-Wiwa, Nigerian, Niger-Delta activist and leader of MOSOP, hanged on General Sani Abacha’s orders in 1995 with eight other activists.

The Rape (For the Niger-Delta, Nigeria) by Jumoke Verissimo

Download the audio file

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (6)
  • Pride (3)
  • Optimism (2)
  • Anger (1)
  • Delight (0)
  • Inspiration (1)
  • Reflection (2)
  • Captivation (3)
  • Peace (4)
  • Amusement (1)
  • Sorrow (0)
  • Vigour (0)
  • Hope (0)
  • Sadness (0)
  • Fear (0)
  • Jubilation (0)

Sequence (Of Desire)

Enlarge poem

Ajani.

Coursing my stream-
ing blood,

cutting my waves of resistance
I become

a stream, the stream,
flowing with no water
*
I am a stream with no course;
a maiden with charred beads;
memory of once-intense affection
*
Ajani.

The beads on my waist,
the heat of my passion,
the pleasure of my ache,

the memory of a
burn
ing groin.

The beads of waiting,
the beads of wanting,
the beads are weighty,

I wait.

My waist pines for your searing,
it is burdened by despised beads
which lightens in your admiration.

In your touch
my singed waist comes alive,
my beads become my flesh.
*
Ajani,
you are a kolanut,

My aftertaste of loin-tussle,
sweetness that follows bitterness.

There is no memory without you,
You are the store house of a quest.
*
When tomorrow asks for yesterday,
It is your name I call.

Ajani.
You are the gingling
aftertaste.

You are kolanut,
*
I taste you.
Do I linger on your tongue too?

Do I tingle?

When amnesia creeps in like surprise rain,
I touch you to remember.

Do you touch yourself to touch me?
Do you remember our touch?

Do you remember the name of fun?
The one we learnt when cast into
the world swallowed by grief.

I know you
Ajani
I learnt you
when we touch, I freeze.
*
I know your touch
I buried it inside…

You are the secrets of thumbprints:
there are no two Ajani.

If I could find another Ajani,
I would clean these cracked lips
and shut my heart from ache.

But the honesty of your fingers
are memoirs on my skin.

I know your touch, Ajani
it’s trapped within my pores
you are the lone memory buried
where fates are moulded into faces.

Your look-alike is emptiness,
your option is a fullness of hurting

I have no choice but you.
I am a memory of hurting
Ajani,
heal me…

I do not know where dreams go,
but I took caution when your footfalls
faded behind me after a drizzle of passion.

You have not stood the test of time,
our memories have. They are fashioned
into annulled-desires.

and now I am learning to gather me,
into a memorable song,
the chorus of echoing desires.
*
Your absence canes me into wanting,
So I’ve memorised your footfalls.

I know your footfall.
It is passion sketched on my mind,
it is the memoirs of drifting in my head.
*
I have befriended death

I have sown seeds of discord
at a timed vacation death is away
from me, from you.
*
What protects a man from death?
Memory? Is it memory of riddled riddles?

Or the memory that keeps a man from
remembering how not to swallow his soul?

Or the memory that keeps a man from remembering how not to swallow his soul?

Ajani.
You shall not die in your prime.
for I remember the name of death.
*
I have memory.

Even when the waters that wetted
our trees of desires dried.

I keep memoirs of flowering,
of budding and harvesting.
*
Ajani,
you have pinched my desires
I hold my breath
I am memory
*
Peel your pericarp of doubt
taste the conviction in our touch
and let your loins throb in memory.

Or have you tasted the likeness of our pleasure?
*
If the past were three-dimensional,
our yesterday was a composite volcano
exploding into a mass of questions.

It was not me
it was not your way,
it was the sequence of forgetfulness.
*
Ajani
remember when my ache(s)
troubled your sleep
til you wet yourself on me…
the love-mares in the deep of the night

your name
my face

your touch
my breathe

our eyes
my mind

those times, brightened visions…
*
Ajani,
my ambition is
to have your eyes in mine
to hold your hands and hope
to keep your lips on mine
to wear your heart in mine
and do nothing.
*
But, you confuse me
Ajani
you torment me

You are a haughty riddle!
*
Do I bite your thoughts?

Do you flip through the pages
of our unwritten meoirs?

I am a tendril
Do I rest on you?
*
It is time to ask that our memory
will not sink into hate

that evil shall pocket its own grief
that you lead and breed only the best.
*
You will not die in your prim,
may tongues that wag, not tramp you down.

Ajani,
we are not strangers. We are friends.
This world is a race, we’re a trace.
*
Ajani,
If you will not smile
on the banquet table
of rotund cheeks of ‘thieving’ politicians

Insincere friends with callous ways
smile for me, and bed peace
*
Ajani,
Let them talk till they wilt
I am your memory.

Comments

Your email address will not be published.