TWENTY FOURTH

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Orange rays on the dusty brown road

Unconceal glass, bottle tops and dung

As herd and man move slowly along

Kicking the echoes of liquor sold.

 

Drunken men sing:

The liquor squeezing a cacophony

Of embalmed truths out through their mouths

From dizzy fractions of their brains.

 

My transistor talks of heaven and hell,

Of Peter, Paul, John and Jesus:

The message of a preacher.

His voice unearths memories of Sara and Abram

 

Who were here in this room.

There they stood, over the bed

Invoking the Spirit of God upon

My shivering shriveled self.

 

Brother, come fellowship with us – she beseeched

In the presence of God there’s fullness of joy

There you’ll be healed – he added

Stead I wailed that the fever wouldn’t let me

That I trusted in the anti-malarial pills

And a good rest.

They went alone.

 

That same night this same transistor

Stopped one of its nightly lullabies

To state in a somber smoky timbre that

A hundred people or more who’d gone west

To find their God had been shelled northward.

I wept.

 

Sara and Abram were here

On earth this day the twenty fourth last year.

I weep. I’m here but for my feeble faith.

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Between Amiri Baraka and Ben Okri

amiri-barakaokri_intro

Yoruba names are lessons in magical realism. Like many African names they connote some meaning; usually they symbolize some circumstance surrounding the birth of that child. Babatunde, for instance, is a name given by the Yoruba people to a child whose birth is preceded by the death of a father or grandfather means ‘father has returned.’ Iyabo is its female equivalent. These names are indications of a belief in reincarnation. I find the semblance between Amiri Baraka and Ben Okri, maybe not so uncanny, but remarkable in some way. Amiri Baraka is 79 and still kicking while Ben Okri is 54. The fact that both are alive signifies that the younger can’t possibly the older’s incarnate.

Amiri Baraka (born Everett LeRoi Jones October 7, 1934), formerly known as LeRoi Jones and Imamu Amear Baraka,is an African-American writer of poetry, drama, fiction, essays and music criticism. He is the author of numerous books of poetry and has taught at a number of universities, including the State University of New York at Buffalo and the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He received the PEN Open Book Award formerly known as the Beyond Margins Award in 2008 for Tales of the Out and the Goneread more

Ben Okri OBE FRSL (born 15 March 1959) is a Nigerian poet and novelist. Okri is considered one of the foremost African authors in the post-modern and post-colonialist traditions and has been compared favorably with authors such as Salman Rushdie and Gabriel Garcia Marquez…read more

What look writer look alikes intrigue you? I’d love to know.