By Bola Opaleke
– Neither should you,
a wise man once said. Even pickaxes
and sledgehammers would do just fine –
like pickaxe-men or sledgehammer-men.
That reminds me of people that left
raising a finger of “revenge my death” up so high
as the bullet-ridden body thuds. What the soldiers
have done to us – young girls –
teaching our heliotropic breasts how to worship the sun,
boys abandoning the fishing rods
for militants’ rifles, men and women
waking up in the morning
to homelessness. A daughter defiled
before the helpless father – his body at twilight,
dangling from a rope hugging a barren tree
his wooden hands never again to cradle a crying child.
I saw a mother rubbing her frail skin with black ash
from her son’s barrow, invoking spirits
of vengeance from that mound. Soldiers
picking our tiniest vein to sew up our lips –
to make us talk in pains – to force us to obey
word count. No soldiers. No! The poor barks
at the Law (that only eavesdrops). These ordinances give
different uniforms to different soldiers
at different levels of our democracy.
These soldiers, wearing different gears –
bath in “constitution of lies.”
But because an old dog never barks at gunmen,
neither do we. “Raise a sword
of rebellion against thieves and murderers,”
wrote a poet,” and watch politics be
white as snow.” Not soaring past
the red line that says: survive or die
because we already fall in love
with “Que Sera Sera” –
that evergreen lyric of consolation
seeping through. Radios and televisions
propagating that wise saying every minute:
“an old dog never barks at gunmen –
neither should you.”
Author’s note: This poem was inspired by the recent incidents surrounding Kenya’s presidential election. And the attack, arrest and imprisonment of the Catalan leaders seeking independence from Spain.
Bola Opaleke is a Nigerian-Canadian poet residing in Winnipeg, MB. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Rattle, Cleaver, One, The Nottingham Review, The Puritan, The Literary Review of Canada, Sierra Nevada Review, Dissident Voice, Poetry Quarterly, The Indianapolis Review, Miracle E-Zine, Poetry Pacific, Drunk Monkeys, League of Canadian Poets (Poetry Month 2013), Pastiche Magazine, The Society, Vol. 10, 2013, St. Peter’s College, University of Saskatchewan, and others. He holds a degree in City Planning.
Photo credit: g0d4ather via a Creative Commons license.