“Listen Up!” and “Kiss and Quarrel in Whispers”

Poetry from Survival Kit #1, presented by the NGC Bocas Lit Fest

Two poems from The Errors of the Rendering, by Funso Aiyejina
Published March 2020 by Peepal Tree Press

The Errors of the Rendering





Listen up!

When you have a job to do
sharpen your tools in advance of the start-by date.

If a job lacks the complexity to delay you
do not delay it.

Two very sound admonitions, you may conclude.
Only for the self-employed, I may respond.

Or for the dedicated professionals.
Not for lawyers and civil servants.

Not for those paid for fixed bundles of hours
instead of the quantum of work they execute.

Not for the many others
who bill by the hour and not by the job they are tasked to complete.

The man who is transporting hot embers to the village shrine in his bare hand
does not stop to educate each and every street corner on the urgency of his errand.





When your house borders a thoroughfare
and your innate and consummate desire
is to escape the arrows of future songs
and the cobra fangs in their chorus lines
you learn to kiss and quarrel in whispers,
conscious of neighbours and passers-by
with feline footfalls and amebo mouths –
their rumour-metres factory-set
to the speed of chameleon tongues
out to feast on swarms of rainflies,
roused by the first rain of the year
ordained to end the reign of an obdurate dry season.

If you allow cracks on your firewalls,
all manners of uninvited crawlers
will wake from their slothful slumbers
under damp and mossy rocks
with hands and mouths unwashed
to demand pride of place
at the head-table of your by-invitation-only banquet.

For your own protection
erect perimeter walls with no conscience
around your sanctuaries
to keep out the green eyes
and foul mouths of rubberneckers,

but remember to keep those walls
low enough for you to pass your offerings
of unblemished fruits, scented oils, and colour-coded flowers
to wake up those ancestors napping in heaven
to their duty of care to those of us still here in the struggle on earth.

Remember too to build secret exits into your houses
in the unlikely event that Sango’s vengeful thunderbolts,
confused by the sameness of modern city streets
and an inability to read directions on Google Maps,
should mistake your shuttered homes for your enemies’ bunkers.


© 2020 Funso Aiyejina

Courtesy Peepal Tree Press

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