by Nome Patrick

My father says his son has grown too far from God.

In the light of Lagos, angels nod at him, urge him

to teach me to know God. Why does the vulture fly

so high, when it can fly so close to the heads of foolish

unbelievers? He asks. Can’t unsalt the ocean, why try?

The chapel: tantum ergo. I wake up with my life shorter

than yesterday, isn’t that a belief? I pin my life to the

sleeves of time, that’s prayer enough. The fair geese,

my friends, stand up, ask: But what is God to you –

Why does your life seem a lone play choreographed

by unknown angels?  If I could pay a coin each

to keep them a century quiet, I would.

I’m just a poor boy who can’t tell the dance of

butterflies from the gyration of angels.

The moon so far, I imagine God, if he exists,

builds fences so high, we disintegrate to see his face.

Like the stars, like the moon, I will wander off

someday. What’s it about God that bothers you?

Bother yourselves with the preachers’ false alarms.

They say: this is the voice of another foolish poet.

My silence a heron hovering over an archipelago.

They say: so-called religious rebel, bastard!  Even the birds

perched as witness sing of mockery. For whom?

Their beaks doors creaking to a ghost’s testament:

God is the rivers with their ageless bodies & roar.

God is me whose voice startle humans to mortality.

God is the cold udala orchard & its hair of green.

God is the rainbow, and the boy’s finger pointed to it.

Or the air, how it powers the horses in your bodies.

God is the wind whistling the world to sleep.

I’m mile away from God, but I bear the basket of his fruits.

Who are you? who are you? who are you?

God’s voice in the wind echoes: foolish rebels!


Source: From the Rebel Issue (October 2019)


NOME EMEKA PATRICK is a blxck bxy and student in the University of Benin, Nigeria, where he studies English language and literature. A recipient of the Festus Iyayi Award for excellence for Poetry in 2018, his works have been published or forthcoming in Beloit poetry journal, Crannóg magazine, Puerto Del Sol, Notre Dame Review, Gargouille, Flapper house, Mud Season Review, The McNeese Review, The Oakland Review, Alegrarse and elsewhere. His manuscript ‘We Need New Moses. Or New Luther King’ was a finalist for the 2018 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. He writes from a small room close to banana trees and bird songs in Benin city.



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