Saturday, January 15, 2011


Nuhu Ribadu vs Goodluck Jonathan. How are Nigerian poets going to chronicle the events? Are we going to just bitch at them, or are we going to find something good, however small and anchor our hopes and aspirations on it? Last night I read through some of my own scribbles and found two poems about flowers. I just thought I should share them with you. Strange, my state of mind in these works.

(For Victor Ehikhamenor)

"Don't write about flowers when the roads are bad"
you charge your kindred poets.

A firestorm rages inside my head.

I choose to write about flowers;
the petals in phantom wreaths rotting,
beautiful menace on imaginary graves
that hold corpses felled by Bakassi blades.

A fireflood roars in my veins.

I choose to write about flowers, because
to paint only potholes and sing only
of blood-flooded streets beautify ugliness.
I'd rather grasp at a shadow of beauty.

A hope bird sings on my shoulder.

I choose to write about flowers;
the testament to loves still thriving
in our compassion-droughted land.
I will defend this dreampot with my life.

If I don't write about flowers, you see,
demons shall vanquish my loftiest dreams.
They will regress me to the age of darkness,
and I, optimistic still, refuse
to be walked backward.


It is easy to fetch a clean sheet of paper.
The desk drawer has hundreds of those.
Lay it like a keen ear in front of your
broken spirit, upon a gross tabletop;
a tabletop that enjoys a frigging sad tale.

Quickly clear the desk of everything else,
then begin to draw pictures. Silly pictures;
flowers, more flowers, yet more flowers!
If the pictures stay bright, vibrant, smiling,
they might induce a timeout from shit.

You are one of those rectitude-whipped
screwballs, awake when you should sleep,
smashing up your sorry laptop’s keyboards,
you moan about this, about that, and that.
Everyone else’s mind except yours is sick.

The leaders and their goons are full of shit,
but you, you are smart and full of vision! I say
you are crap if all you can do is draw flowers
and beat up a helpless laptop keyboard, brother,
your name has never been on a ballot paper.

The baboons with big big balls throw a ball -
to jerk off, you slip on their semen and fall.
They laugh, they mock you, their feet in the air.
The Dollars are in the baboons’ vault. Tough!
No bottle to fight them? Go draw flowers.

- Nnorom Azuonye

"A Poem About Flowers" from The Bridge Selection: Poems for the Road - Nnorom Azuonye (2005)
"The Smart Always Draw Flowers" from The Red Pastures - Nnorom Azuonye (forthcoming July 12, 2011)

© Nnorom Azuonye

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