Saturday, August 1, 2020



An African Iliad
(For Professor Wóyínká)

Finest corn,
Gourds of fresh wine!

Transcendent conviction
Beyond lone imperturbable lips, Ògún
Girded up his stave into a plat
Strewed with hewed stones and built
On the debris of shattered boulders.
Reclined in the fiscal of wakeful state, Kongí
Did you recall the arresting moments of maelstroms
When the god refused to be stampeded
By the raptors and their political intrigues?

Was not this to mark the path
Into a new world,
To rise above the walls of the envious?

You burrowed down into creative forensics, Ògún
And waved a defiant fist at their stocks.


Could one gulp the primordial wine wide-eyed
Without a moment of loosening tongue!

I do not impute innocence to contented stones.

The seeming stealing silent soliloquies,
The foreboding and the subtle stealth
In the rising Gethsemane of the soul. I heard it all
Beyond myself at the threshing floors.


Gourds of fresh wine!

The belligerent phantasmagoria stirred
Within the paraphernalia of the hearth.

Whiplash in the shrouds.

Draw nearer, and read the cowries on the wooden tray.

Since Forever

Your voice is not easily forgotten
Knitted in the Kaaba of my earth,
And there everything sun is melting.

I heard you wrote me a letter
And in it a thousand petals paddle in gladly.

*Kaaba is the rectangular structure that housed the sacred Black Stone in the Holy Land, Mecca.

You Must Pledge A Grinding Stone
To Kernels

It was nobler to forestall the dawn.

Darkfall scantily clad in a stirring wooden mask,
The proletariate of silence spiteful,
Languid to approaching lingerers.

Is it with dry morsels of bean cake and forsaken corn
You shall often speed to the standing- place
of the spirit?

Not unless the ministrant forebear wine,
Softening bud and tenderer nuts.

Such petulant panic of a measured temper
Is native taste to peasant-hour.


SHOLA BALOGUN is a Nigerian poet, playwright, filmmaker and critic. He is the author of The Cornwoman of Jurare & Other Poems, Prayer Earthquake Against Demonic Third Eye, Death and Suicide in Selected African Plays, The Wrestling of Jacob, and Praying Dangerously: The Cry of Blind Bartimaeus. He also screenplayed The Secret Place, The gods Are Liars, Wrestling with Shadows and Deliverance from The Rod of the Wicked, based on the messages of Dr. D. K. Olukoya, which have been made into short films. Balogun studied Theatre Arts at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, West Africa. Called “an important voice in African-and world-poetry” by Bewildering Stories, his work has appeared in journals, magazines and anthologies such as Kalahari Review, Nicosia Beyond Barriers: Voices from a Divided City, The Invisible Bear, a Journal affiliated with Duke University’s English Department Graduate Poetry Working Group, Durham, North Carolina, Adelaide Literary Magazine, Whispers In The Wind: A Poetry Anthology Edited by Lena Kovadlo, Potomac Journal, The Bitchin' Kitsch, Ovi Magazine and The Tau: The Literary and Visual Art Journal of Lourdes University, Sylvania, Ohio. Balogun lives in Lagos, Nigeria.

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