Oil Battle and the Renegades
For Niger Delta, Nigeria
Here and there, gun-songs emanate from complex machines
Rattling, telegraphing the rhythm of oil and power.
Ceaselessly, they tingle machines to sneeze fire
Like dragons in dreadful combats
Ceaselessly, a boat wobbles at the arena of gun-power
“Shoot soldier-man! Shoot!” the headman screamed.
The sea bears witness to metals kissing boys to sleep.
On the road, men match with the face of dry leaves
On the road, metal beasts crawl snaily to riverbanks
On the road, poised camouflages crawl to sea beaches
And macabre music throttles my sleep.
In the Creeks, boys who left books and freedom tarry
They cook some earthquakes.
Dawn, hushed bodies drift with their charms
And bewildered folks stood to solve algebras.
At once, they said their guardians had left unannounced
It left at the creeks
Where they plucked flowers from women
And goods from men sailing offshore
At once, they said they are renegades
And their fathers are ashamed
Singing and dancing are the gears
That ignite the fires on her feet.
Sounds of music sprout from backstage, she whirls
Her heart brimmed with extreme ecstasies
And legs pulse, trapping dusts and sounds
Now beat the drums that make the trees dance
Strike the sticks that make our joy prance
Now beat atamgba, beat ekere, beat alili, and beat ngu
Set the ceremony of the celebrant going
Let earth witness her undiluted twist
But let the rain wait a little longer
And sun, to the rhythms of our wishes
‘cos the feet are itching
Ready the tread the ancestral maze
The rolling throb of Iria-Bibite
And to all that provokes the chimes on her feet.
It is the hour of ripples
When dances are scattered in the atmosphere
Like palm leaves entangled with ghastly winds
When the beauty of voices tingle earth’s fantasy.
There, on her limbs, she merges pot, fire, and water.
Fubaraibi Anari Benstowe is a Nigerian poet. He attended the Niger Delta University in Bayelsa State. His works has been published in Praxis magazine, Nigeria/South-Korea Poetry anthology, Journal Young African Literature (JYAL) 2020, 20.35 Africa: An anthology of contemporary African Poetry, Journal of the association of Faculty of Art Students, University of Ibadan 2020. He was a top ten finalist in the Africa-Wide BN Poetry Award based in Uganda in 2014, and first runner up for the Eriata Eribhabor Poetry Prize in 2014