In Love

Like a freshly blooming daisy, you came and

Lit up my world

Smiling brightly and laughing heartily, with

Twinkling eyes

And talkative eyelashes and beautiful teeth.

 

Beautiful teeth

Were the reason I fell in love with a queen and

Your tender heart

Was the reason I stayed in love with a woman

Of great strength.

 

Tell me now that you fell in love with me too

As I did with you

That this love is why you are holding on to me

And will forever be.

 

Toyin Taiwo © 2016

Origins

Hello there!

If you don’t know much else about me, you should know I am a Christian, an engineering graduate, and I love to write poetry.

So I have been thinking of ways to tell some stories, and I decided to tell a bit of story in verse. This one is titled “Origins”, a piece I have recently worked on – an attempt to explore a few of the places that have influenced my life the most, and in what way.

It is essentially, an experiment in poetry and story-telling. I hope you enjoy it. Please feel free to share your thoughts afterwards. Cheers!

 

My life is a story of places;

The places I come from, the places I’ve been to,

And the places I am headed to.

 

You see, I come from many places

From the tiny crag in the rock

Where strong men are made in the silence

From the lazy town by the way

Where the curious are formed every day

From the busy streets of the city

Where dreams are built up and broken down

And tears are mixed with sweat

As rain beats down on toilers and hustlers.

 

I come from Sagamu,

Old trading post linking Lagos to the hinterland

Where limestone deposits abound underground

And bags of cement complement baskets of kolanut

On their way out of the old and ancient town.

 

I come from Eleja, before the swamp beyond Ajegunle

Where little boys rolled tyres in walled compounds,

Fought sharp-mouthed little girls for bragging rights

And played ball with young men for a place at the table

Of men. We read big and little books alike,

Recited poems and memorized multiplication tables

In hope of finding our place in this world.

 

I come from Ayegbami,

Where there was space enough for the brave

And those who had foresight built houses

Among the trees, as population ever expanded and

The boundaries of our civilization was daily stretched.

 

I come from Ikenne,

Where eager boys and girls found their way to school

In the hope of learning a thing or two

And perhaps a chance to become someone great in life.

Pushed by friends and family, inspired by several stories

We trudged daily to assemble at the school set on a hill

Till one day we all fanned out to pursue our dreams.

 

I come from Sokoto, where friendly rivalry was nurtured

From Abuja, where teenagers morphed into young men

From Lagos, where destiny began to unfold before my eyes

And friends became family as foundations were laid

For a new set of families just about to emerge

From Abakaliki, where dust and dryness birthed greatness

And men were formed by Divine hands from miry clay.

 

I come from Port-Harcourt and a thousand more places,

From every place where my life gained definition

And memorials were laid as a reminder for the future.

Memories swathed in unfading music

Line the path everywhere I come from.

Even now, I hear the sounds of every city, every place,

Every road, every room or street corner

Humming and buzzing as my life echoes emphatically

The sound of every place from where I come.

Toyin Taiwo © 2016

Of Memory and Music, Love and Expectation

Hello there! It’s been a few days since I posted here; busy with work and writing too. It usually takes a lot of hard work to put up something I find worthy of reading or which captivates my own attention. And I have a few pieces of poetry I have been working on – I pray they turn out well so I can put them up.

In the meantime, I wrote two short pieces today, two seven-liners that evolved almost out of nowhere, but which captured some deep thoughts in my heart. I hope you can relate with them one way or another.

So this is the first piece, which is woven around memory and sounds:

Memories swathed in unfading music,

Each memory unique with its own song

Line every path wherever I may turn

As I journey through the maze of history.

The future awaits with own set of tunes

Amazing sounds; I hear them in visions

It is time for us go over to the other side.

The second piece speaks plainly on love and where we expect to find it (not what it is, which is another matter). Here goes:

 

We found love in unlikely places

In food courts and game centres

In the smiling eyes of cute babies

And helping hands of kind strangers

Maybe we were, indeed entirely wrong

To have sought love only in certain places

For love has always been wherever we went

 

I hope you enjoy them or find them stimulating and/or tasteful, the same way good food stimulates the mouth to salivate. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Kindly use the comment box below. Do not forget to like and share. Thanks for stopping by!

O. J. Taiwo

Judah

Written by Toyin Taiwo

Between the reticence of a phlegmatic,

And the bluntness of a choleric,

There you will find me.

My name is Judah – the crouching lion.

Teeth drenched in blood, I roar in my anger

Having just returned from devouring the prey

I fear no trouble; I regard no creature

The world is a jungle; the jungle is my home

I was born to rule and reign; I know no limitation

Eyes red as blood, teeth white as milk

I dwell and roam in the choicest of places

I’ve become a terror to those who don’t know me

In my hunger, I call out to my God

Faster than lightning, he answers my call

And shows me a prey, I must set out to devour

Swiftly I arise, without a delay

I pursue my prey, and surely overtake

My meal is assured, for my God does provide

And through every season

I always prevail, and cannot be defeated

Because my name is Judah, and I am the crouching lion

Toyin Taiwo (c) 2015

P.S. You may want to read Genesis 49:8-12, and Psalms 104:21,27. That’s where most of this piece comes from. Cheers!

Hope

Written by Joy Ijere

For over thirty weeks and six

When the food turns bitter-sweet

And all the clothes no longer fit

She bears the pain and counts the weeks

Through the cold, through the heat

She knows for sure where it will lead

For little hands and little feet

Soon from her will be revealed.

For four, five years and sometimes six

He has no shelter guaranteed

In dim and fading light he’ll read

Wants no other than As and Bs

Though all he eats is salty beans

He’s sure to never speak defeat

For one day he’ll live his dreams

With more than enough to eat.

At night, alone, she longed for him

So close he was she could touch him

But for that great gulf in-between

Oh, for her pride and dignity!

So fulfilled at last she’ll feel

When she finds him whom her soul seeks

But while he sleeps between the trees

Ssshh! Wake not her Lover till he please.

He’s two years and seventy old

Heard he has to go through CHEMO

Stage Four Cancer on the Memo

Night time, yet, without the shadows

Laughter like there’s no tomorrow

Can’t bear to give way to sorrow

For now he knows he’s reached that Close

Where he can do no more than hope.

Hope is the expectation

That something good will come

It’s what makes us to function

Even in the midst of the storm

We rise to work, and lie to sleep

For, far and yonder, we believe

That there’s a holy land of bliss

And that we’ll surely enter in.

Bariga – A Tale of Transition

The year was 2006. Two boys from Sagamu had gained admission to study Chemical Engineering at the University of Lagos (UNILAG). It was the session UNILAG started post-UTME exams, the one after the UNILAG riots in 2005 that left the Students’ Union sacked and the school hostels closed down. We had nowhere to stay when school resumed, and were almost stranded until the last minute when my friend’s mum got a contact with whom we could stay temporarily. The mother to one of her wards in the school hostel (where she worked) lived in Bariga, and accepted to have us live with them in the meantime. That’s how we packed our bags and headed to a place neither of us nor our parents knew or had been to.

I can’t even remember how we found directions to the place. The woman lived in a “room and parlour” arrangement with her son and younger daughter. Her older daughter was the one with my friend’s mum in the school hostel. My friend, Michael Adesanya, and I, used to sleep in the sitting room (“parlour”) while she slept in the bedroom with her children. Of course, toilet and bathroom facilities were shared with other neighbours and we had a “yard” where all the neighbours would sit out in the evenings to talk and get some fresh air. The clothes line was also somewhere in that “yard”. Essentially, it was a “face-me-I-face-you” setting.

For me, the change was as dramatic as it could be. One moment, I was living with my nuclear family in a three-bedroom apartment in Sagamu, where I had a room to myself, took strolls in the evening, and generally enjoyed the slow-paced township life. The next moment, I was sharing a two-room apartment with my best friend and three other near-strangers in a crowded community within the heart of busy Lagos where some were struggling to eke out a living and others were chasing fortunes. But the fact of those changes did not cross my mind at the time – I was just doing everything I needed to do to get an education. I was indeed grateful to even find a place to stay.

Those were tough times for us. It was almost like living on the edge, being careful not to get too comfortable even though we were not ill-treated. Our host was always out from dawn to dusk, so we mostly made our own meals since we had access to foodstuff in the house. That made things a bit easy for us. But there were the periodic brushes with one neighbor or the other. On one occasion, I got really upset with our host’s son and beat him – the boy was really stubborn. I have other memories of taking long walks home from Ilaje bus-stop to save money, of cooking curry ‘fried’ rice to keep our bellies alive and of learning new ways to spread clothes to conserve space on the ever-busy clothes line.

There was a cantankerous old man in the house who would talk and talk without end – he was always berating one of the younger people in our ‘yard’, especially playful children. Sometimes, he would make sense while I silently nodded in affirmation. At other times, he would be off point, like when he said everything around us was alive, including the ground on which we stepped and the line on which our clothes hung. So he said no one should step on the ground anyhow in order not to hurt the ground. That particular day, I was convinced he had become senile. It was the first time I met an older man that troublesome; I usually associated that manner of behavior with elderly women.

Our eventual departure from the house was another piece of drama. It started with us getting signals from our host that we had over-stayed our welcome. Of course, this was not spoken; it was only demonstrated by actions that indicated her discomfort with our continued presence. Not that I blame her; the plan was to stay with her for a short period. But our stay was beginning to know no end. So one Sunday evening, without notifying anyone, we quietly moved our things and went to stay with Michael Onwugbufor at Community Road, Akoka, who stayed with his mum in a three-bedroom apartment. We had spent a total of seven eventful weeks in Bariga.

Michael O. was a fellow student and close friend to us, and he was the last child living alone with his warm and welcoming mother. We first met during the National JETS competition at Sokoto in 2004, and then re-united when we were admitted into UNILAG over a year later. We spent a few weeks at Michael O.’s before the hostels opened and we finally moved into school. And those few weeks were a sharp contrast to our previous experience. We had more space, felt freer, made new friends, shared laughter, played games, ate Sunday afternoon salt-less rice, and played songs from old and scratching CDs. One time, we even took a canoe ride from the end of Community Road to UNILAG waterfront.

The memories of those seven weeks in Bariga is clearly imprinted on my mind – the crowded environment, the makeshift life we endured, the survival instincts we developed, the social skills we cultivated, and the emotional intelligence to determine when it was time to move on, all stay with each of us till today, and have become an integral part of our pursuits in life. More than that, the memories of the two or three weeks that followed are fondly held as a reminder that God’s loving kindness never departs, and that those who sow in tears do reap in joy. Today, we continue to adapt to a changing life within a changing world in the hope of exceeding our own highest expectations and making a dent in the universe.

O. J. Taiwo

Note: A big thanks to Joy Ijere for reviewing and editing this piece, and for her useful insights and suggestions.

To you, my dear reader, your comments and feedback on this piece would be very much welcome. Thank you!

Nothingness

If we take a journey and come

To where you said you are,

You will not be there

In fact, you will not be anywhere

We will be unable to tell

Where you are, or who you are,

Or if at all you do exist

We will doubt all the words

We heard you speak

And imagine that words must be

Bound to a face, or a person

We will doubt the truth of your claims,

Your existence and achievements

And along with it, our own sanity

Toyin Taiwo © 2015

For the love of Haiku

From the first moment I learnt what an Haiku was, I totally fell in love with this form of poetry. The requirement for precision, and a deft reference to differing or conflicting ideas is for me a very interesting and challenging exercise. And being a lover of nature, I enjoy making observations about the environment, human behaviour or experiences using a simple but beautiful form of art. So, I will be sharing with you below three Haikus I wrote, just for the love of Haiku, and an extra one written by a friend – it’s actually still my best Haiku so far. Enjoy!

 

The pillar holds forth

Amidst the noise and rumble

Of a thundercloud

 

It beats me like rain

How the wicked man prospers

While good men bear pain

 

Dry wind passes by

Carrying with it cold and dust

In the harmattan

 

And for the extra one below, written by Adaobi Chukwudi, you can thank me later. 🙂

 

A baby laughing

Red Maple in its splendour

Makes life worth living.

 

Enjoy your weekend!!!

Stay

Join me to savour this short poetic narrative. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed reading and writing it. One of my earliest attempts at poetry…please feel free to share your thoughts. Thanks!

Chronicles of a Journeyman

“Welcome home. You will stay now, won’t you?

While you were away I hardly slept

Countless were the vigils I sorely kept

Now that you are home, I pray you will stay”

“While I crossed the sea I was thinking of you

Deep, wide and endless, matched by no other

Akin to your love, unsurpassed by another

But still I cannot say if I really will stay”

“When I close my eyes I dream only of you

Standing like a tower that never can fall

To be with you I long for, far above all

But I only wonder if you still will stay”

“I never dreamt of anything apart from you

Wondering if and when I’ll return to my home

And set my foot on its friendly ground of loam

Never again to wander but always to stay”

“If you so desire, then do what is in you

We…

View original post 69 more words

Do You Believe?

Tonight, I own the stage.

Isn’t it beautiful?

Isn’t it beautiful how

You can be voiceless one moment

And own a stage the next?

Isn’t it wonderful how

You can rise from a nobody

To sitting among princes the next?

You heard the message of faith

Did you believe?

Did you really believe?

Did you really believe you would

Rise from the ashes and be clothed

In purple?

In purple – the purple of kings

Of royalty and splendour and honour

And respect and privilege and wealth

Of servants and banquets and feasts

And surplus and buffets and fashion

Did you really believe?

Or were you

Consumed with guilt and lust and desire

And shame and fear and doubt?

Because, all your life

You wanted this moment

You wanted to hope and believe and

Dream and see and hold onto this,

This present truth, now looming large before you

Unbelievable, but now true and real

You wanted this with all your heart

But now, it only stares in seeming mockery at you

Or does it?

Hey, wait!

Don’t go down that path

Of envy and jealousy and hatred and bitterness

And malice and unending pain,

And deceit and manipulation and subterfuge

For in reality, this would-be hope of yours

Beckons at you in desperate longing

It beckons at you to come, to come away

To the table, the table of kings

If you only believe, if you really believe

You can take your place among the stars

And perhaps tonight or some other night

You can own the stage.

Toyin Taiwo © 2016