Why I Stopped Living in Nigeria

Your plaintiff voices I hear daily

in cold silence that deafens,

in naked and shadowy corners:

“Don’t you know what’s going on?

Have you not heard that…?

Have you not seen with your eyes?”

My senses breathe, oh yes, alive am I

with eyes that see beyond looking

with ears that listen beyond hearing

But my elements for another world are meant now

For I stopped living in Nigeria

And began existing only there.

You never knew

When I put hope in the pockets

of my deep blue jeans, and zipped it up

You looked away

When I began carving my world

within a world of chaos, a world gone mad!

Buried in empty country talks you were

When I gripped my dreams

and in the grave silence of the night

Told my soul I was going to break free

Like the caged canary.

Now I live in a place

That cannot be gutted by fire

That cannot be grazed by killer cows

That cannot be raped by abductors

That cannot be assailed by bandits

That cannot be stained by blood

Oozing from the wounds of protesters,

Where the queen does not leave the beehive!

Now I breathe, an undying soul

inside my beautiful mind,

inside my new, delicate but wild heart

Yes, I am the nightcrawler,

Hunting for game and adventure

Bowlines off, away from safe harbour,

Set to catch trade winds in my sail.

And I have since stopped living,

Only existing in the territory called Nigeria

with my body and senses only, not the rest,

though with cosmic loneliness I sometimes wrest

Until conversations deep and rare lighten me up.

© Samuel James

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