September 23, 2019

Dark Poetic Visions of Nigeria by Batunde Babafemi

Dark Poetic Visions of Nigeria by Batunde Babafemi


You remember when  

we were too beautiful to smile? 

savoring the tears for another day? 

How we search our breath  

In our nose? 

You see the prophesy was true; 

we will all die 

But my lover’s death 

took away my spine. 

I crawl all night and wonder  

about the shadow of a man 

buried inside a plank—The day I heard his demise,  

I thought it was a prank 

Until I see tears from my eyes. 

My love, 

How long have you been cold? 


I buried my pain inside my gaze 

looking through our memories 

I heard your voice inside my speech, 

& when the clergy summoned me  

My words become flaccid 

Like this I know how  

much death took from me.  


Her silence has words burning inside her  

Same as a letter on a wreath, 

A girl that laughs to the river to bathe her 


Alone without a cohort returned with light 

patches of gloom. 

Maybe darkness remembers her, 

& every tear she sheds begs for rebirth of


& I look at her cries, hopelessly searching for signs of her fear. 

Tonight we will ask her again, if truly the red 

We saw on her skirt was flowers—Sigh—she pointed to the moon, 

& the mucus on her nose bloomed, 

& she touched her thigh to play a sibilant song of 


Then she stood and raised a finger, 

muttering some curse and walked from epoch to 


Like a geld without a memory. 

She gallops melancholy towards me, 

& seethes my soul with her fears, 

& my soul runs back to the river to ask the 

pebbles what they say to the waterfall: 

My sister was Raped.  


You’ve to listen to me, 

Maybe I didn’t wail much when they 

put their knives on my throat, 

before breaking a prince into a slave. 

Now my body is a fiesta: 

There is prayer, there is Demon . . .

No, No prayer send demons to me 

Each having a price on my head. 

Only if I am somebody else, 

If only I am the boy running naked 

In my mother’s eyes yesterday —  

Yesterday I was young, 

Free like the wind 

Young as the morning, 

Buy today my body is not mine, 

Not my mother’s either 

All I become is filth like my dead father, 

They will kill me for who I’ll become 

My Kadara is a game 

They hunt me . . ..

*Kadara means Destiny 


How are we able to drink up the sea 

& lighten up our lantern in daylight to seek God’s face? 

The first contact a child will ask about God is  

by piercing his eyes into the sky to search for God’s face when he comes home late. 

Such a man in Gida alighted from a bus and found darkness in his pocket,  

he tore his mouth into cries and shouts 

 “O God how hast thou forsaken me” 

“Hast thou died” 

A begger in his scornful smile lay howling on the pavements of a weary   

street replied 

“god has died, his putrefaction is oozing out of decaying bodies in Nigeria.” 


Batunde Babafemi is a 25-year-old Nigerian poet who will always come late to the party. He has been published in the Nigerian Observer newspaper, Pangolin Review, Tuck Magazine, Labrythine Passage, and elsewhere. 

About theJack B. Rochester

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