Dear Irony

Dear Irony, “Tell me, my goddess.”
What numbers have you laid sway?
Is it the Wise – who derides Folly?
Or the ridiculed who derides his mocker –
“In all his insight and contemplative devote he is
a maverick proclaiming without any result his knowing
like a parched lost vagabond in Sahara
the thirst for knowledge had led him to drink
from the desert spring of Gloom – souring his heart
distress thumps all the more noisily on his entryways t
than Happiness and Merry;
What tumult – what sorrow – what sad fate.

Dear Irony, confess to me – my enchantress.
What numbers are subjugated by your charms?
Is it the sovereign of that far-off country?
Whom subjects under his authority mock –
“I control their affairs – am lord to them all.”
Or the swayed and bossed in their humbleness?
Who in answer mock their derided charlatan
“Rains of ill fate has befallen him,
he seeks power yet free freedom over self,
bonds master, yet enslaver of his spirit,
all he ever needed has turned him
into a walking tragedy – a phantom of Fortune,
he will die well known to all yet obscure to himself.
What tumult – what sorrow – what sad fate.

The virtuoso of Caprice! Smile, on me, admit to my ear,
allow not judiciousness to deny me! What numbers –
is it that egocentric monster called Man?
The most alive of creation, who ridicules mocks other creatures –
“Am of a greater degree of purity –
gifted from birth with domain and knowledge.”
Or is it the ridiculed who derides his impostor?
“He was once, blessed yet most unholy –
A bride to war, an apostle of destruction,
An angle of self-inflicted sorrow
A heartbreak to God – his maker.”
What tumult – what sorrow – what sad fate.

To you, my flighty dame, I bow!
My lady of illusion and honor most genuine
give Man a full measure of your meaning
in conceding his affairs to you
so that his fate will not take leave to sit
with Vulnerability, nor bewail because
blossoming are the secret richness
of Nature – its concealed wisdom and laws
that controls our stars and destiny.
Kind companion – my goddess – my conjurer
Loosen o your hold and mock us not!

© Ugo Nkwoala | | 2021


Grass Snake

Had there been no green in him one would not have thought
Him to have been envenomed, but starting back from the
Darting of this virid twister, one forgets at least
For a moment that there is no question of his virulence here.
His color is drawn from the grass in which he flickers,
But washed as by the water colorist’s hand that had
Drawn the whole snake from nature. And it is for that –
For the garment of the benign he wears – that we recoil
From his intrusions as we do not from those of most
Of his brothers, black, striped or evilly mottled.
In junkyards, motionless lengths of rotten tubing.
Or rusted coils of spring; on battered, gray sidewalks,
The half-dried, gray serpent-stump an unleashed dog left
To affront the carelessness of our steps; and in the Garden
Of Parodies, some creature like the ambiguous Slank – all these
Subtle questioners of our state are of the same tribe
As the green one, one with the ambiance through which they creep,
presence unwrenched from a background, startling, until rescued
By what we know of the world, to our alien eyesight.

© John Hollander | Blue Wine and Other Poems| Published by The John Hopkins University Press| 1979

I am a Fading Light

If Only

an Entrepreneur

Sounds Oddly Familiar?

Back from work, earlier than expected, in a faded cream-painted apartment, he dropped the car key on the table and stripped off his jacket. The air was stale and warm as he tugged off his tie retrieving a can of Heineken from the fridge. As he opened the dust-stained and cracking wooden door to their bedroom, a black gorgeous off-the-shoulder strap floor-sweeping velvet gown lay spread out on the bed – his wife’s latest purchase – her many frivolities.

“She spends her money on clothes, not on house-keeping. As far as she’s concerned, a man’s salary is for paying bills.” Irritated, he threw the tie into the bedside drawer while still soliloquizing, this time sounding very audible.
“Tell a woman to bring part of her income to complete rent payment, and she looks at you as if you’re high on crack. She expects you to pay the children’s school fees, pay the landlord, maintain and fuel your car as well as hers, and even send money to her parents and siblings. If you can’t foot these bills, then you’re not man enough.”
“Is manhood now measured by the amount of money you dole out, even if it’s killing you?” Frustrated, he sank into the bed while shoving aside her latest Sunday-best.

“Should I? My dear, don’t die in installment yet,” a voice replied from behind apparently she overheard.
“When a man decides that he’s grown to become a husband and father, he’s also entitled to responsibilities accompanying such title.”
She enumerated further, “If I spend my wages paying rents and your children’s school fees, then your manhood is handicapped.”
“Is it only during sex that women ascertain a man’s manhood?” She asked, but he kept quiet out of restraint, knowing he has fanned the embers.
“If a woman has done all that God says she should – bearing children and servicing her man in bed, plus giving him a good head, why should a man shy away from tilling the land and bringing the proceeds home?”
“You quote God, ehh! When it suits you …,” he stopped midway before asking, “Didn’t he (God) also say your husband will dominate you? Why am I not overseeing your income? I don’t even know your monthly earnings? Is the injunction ‘a wife will stick to her husband, and they’ll become one flesh’ divorced from your paycheck?”

Dismissing his objections with a wave of her right hand, she flattered him, “Thanks, Mr. Central Bank, but it’s not as if you ever give enough. You give monthly allowances that I have to subsidize. You pay school fees and tell me to buy books and school sandals. After all that, I still have to buy my clothes and braid and make my hair while you take the glory when you share a pint with your buddies. May God forgive you and your stinginess.”
“God will forgive you also, your meanness and many frivolities,” he said while rolling his back towards her facing the wall. Sounds oddly familiar? The many wars fought in the bedroom. Case closed.

© Ugo Nkwoala | |2021

F o’ F

Oh, Joe