Poem On Lagos City
Intersection plagued with crowd
Happy, hustling, angry, hungry, mobbing
Traffic jams like unruly parking lot.
Bodies move, disturbed as bees in hives.
Melting pot of tribes
Sometimes frightening, nightmarish
You never know when you are coming home
Without car or your turn to lose hand to thieves
Who want watch, bangles, or bracelet
But can’t wait to unleash.
It used to be when they rob
They ask for the money
Got it from So and so
Or … Bank
They made husband watch the rape
Sometimes they ask for compliment
No choice here. Brutal
Hard to beat Lagos.
I rise with crows to get to work on time
But now I stand
Wait, wait, and wait
At last a ramshackle to suck us up
A crowd at the door, a brawl, chaos
Like a log in angry stream they haul me in
My right shoe dangles. Slips
Behind, he leaves no room
Pressing so hard, I shift away from his bulge
I quit the fight.
The braves raise rancor
The wish to disappear. Both.
Trapped on this hot day
To cool you had a drink for the road
They bug you, hawkers in their dozens
“Oga, crackers, Tuc or Ritz?”
Or na Coke you want?”
You are drenched in sweats from head to undies
Now you are pressed, really need to go
Not alone, in front behind the wheels of Molue
He alights, sprays the tire as you watch
Jumps in relieved while his foaming
Streams between tires.
You pass skyscrapers, checkered glass,
To mainland bridge
You withdraw to land,
Join comic palm-wine club
At nature-canopied groove
Palm bleeds white
In the keg hung at its throat.
Sieve a gulp with your whiskers
Sort out the latest from the clamor
And get drunk on voices.
Sunny Lagos is favored yet
Could be most exciting city
Shine of sun amiable from cloudless sky
Warms up white sands of Bar Beach.
Restless surf of Atlantic Ocean
Caressed incessantly peopled shore
Worry-free laughter rings out from bubbling blue
Dotted black and brown
Shrieks from bewildered children
Losing hold on sweeping surf
Sand-shoes seized by breakers.
Now, let’s sit at Marina
Ankle-deep, cool water stroking tired feet.
Let’s watch cargo ships queue in lagoon
Anxious to discharge.
Let’s observe yacht-men cruising past
Unmindful of the great floaters
Let’s study forbearance from lonely fishermen paddling
Let’s smile as daylight dives under water
Let’s go home, our invisible companion, tautness
Cast below sea-level.
Our ride home, renewed ardor.
Written by Doyin Ogunbadejo Isiaka, a poet based in Lagos