Nkwachukwu Ogbuagu

January 16, 1968 - Umuahia, Nigeria
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Words from a Woman

Mrs. Holloway polishes her poetry dimly,
Regaling herself with the accoutrements of
Selected poetry, cluttered and less jinxed
By way of satanic slamming by famished,
Idle critics who read The New York Times
Just once in a sugared year.
She chooses her stanzas locally.
By that I mean her stanzas nurse patience,
Drifting from gossips to loose, impotent
Talks held when midnights ail.
She digresses from north’s steady arrow
To the rump of the south, where watersheds
Of a nation’s difficult history are published.
Chances are that her poetry would win a
Contest in a fortnight, but the era of romance
Is jaundiced, which is her constituency and
Her background for coloured matters.
Her abbreviations for the names of her old
Suitors are carved from pillars to posts – reposting
Caryatids as common sentinels on a poisoned bank –
Losing the Greekness required of such adornments.
O Holloway, read, read, read,
Her acolytes pressure her.
Time loses sense of time in its own timeness,
They warn.
That, to me, is the commonest blandishment.

I should never have sipped from her potsherd
Such stale beer as she offered on the day her
Poetry was reviewed by a proscribed newspaper.
But her urge for anything dead and horrid,
Egged me on, especially when she narrated
The murder of seven sisters by seven creatures that
Very Sunday morning when the taverns closed
Before they opened.
Holloway shocked me with the gory details.
Oh, I forgot to tell you she hankers after things
Truly, truly hebdomadal.
I call her Mrs. Holloway the Hebdomadalist.
Seven churches, seven trumpets,
Seven seals, seven heads, seven horns... and now
Seven sisters murdered by seven creatures.
That’s why her poetry is cluttered.
Full of nerves and airs of salutes,
Mrs. Holloway’s poetry thunders.

She presumes that time will, like the morning
Dew, settle on the sinews of her poetry.
(And I agree with her) .
And smoothen it - yes, time, the masseur of
All time.
Smoothen it.
Oil it.
Massage it.
And level it.
At least to street level.
(And I agree with her) .
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