Two Poems By Chinua Ezenwa Ohaeto
The fire burns out, and the story father told
draws sleep into my eyes. After a nap, I’ve come to believe in simplicity; I’ve come to agree that I’m a catalyst within time.
Show me how to massage love onto my shoulders.
Here, there’re so many sad stories; so many broken things:
broken lives, broken dreams, faulty policies.
And the light here is too heavy, heavy enough to even stay on a child’s palm. The earth spins and everything I know
remains the same. I touch the scar at the back of my leg
and a dog barks into my childhood. Some wounds take forever to heal: imagine a widow or a widower;
imagine a country at war, or a child abandoned at the border.
At night, I feel the cold of the day and the remnants of
its memories filing into my bones. I have spoken so much
to people through poems that I wonder if they
listen anymore if they even care how I carry my light.
My friend calls and says that the darkness over this place
is turning heavy even for the moon. And I become more shattered than an overlapped pawpaw that fell from its tree.
The Things Missing After Translating Home
You have learnt so many things by reading Taiye Ojo, Nome Patrick Emeka,
Jeremiah O-Agbaakin, especially how they have made metaphors so immediate
like the hairs in the armpits. Over the years, you have walked miles
in recording experiences, and, sadly, most of them come out reversed.
You know: like how home beats you hot at the heels, pushing you
and pushing you, and saying that you are something sour. As sour
as the bible sees sin. And when you speak, about how the geckos
die in one evening of pointing bad, your words turn out as echoes.
No one listens. No one wants to hear. You keep speaking still, and twitter has
to vomit on your name. You fold into yourself like an Armadillo. Trying to match hope into your bones, marrows and arteries. Then you leave home.
You leave home because of its hotness, of its fires and bombs and thug-ery and thefts.
Home turns back and screams into your dreams and poems.
But you don’t know how to help what never wanted to be helped?
How can you live in a place that spits molten on your head?
You close your eyes and essays stand at the gate of your dreams.
So you open your eyes and read again: Taiye, Nome, Agbaakin and Shire.
You want to have to re-know what you have never lost: a home.
About The Poet
Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto (@ChinuaEzenwa) is from Owerri-Nkworji in Nkwerre, Imo state, Nigeria and grew up between Germany and Nigeria. He has won the Association Of Nigerian Author’s Literary Award for Mazariyya Ana Teen Poetry Prize, 2009; Speak to the Heart Inc. Poetry Competition, 2016. He became a runner-up in Etisalat Prize for Literature, Flash fiction, 2014. He won the Castello di Duino Poesia Prize for an unpublished poem, 2018 which took him to Italy. He was the recipient of New Hampshire Institute of Art’s 2018 Writing Award, and also the recipient of New Hampshire Institute of Art’s 2018 scholarship to MFA Program. Some of his works have appeared in Lunaris Review, AFREADA, Rush Magazine, Kalahari Review, Palette, Knicknackery, Praxismagazine, Bakwa Magazine, Strange Horizons, One, Ake Review, Crannòg magazine and elsewhere.