And because man is by some
A political animal
Or he is nothing good,
He will go all-out to matter well,
Or just for his own sake to matter somewhat.
And because to stay god enough,
You must bear some variant of lunacy,
Much of it by private construction,
They will do stranger doings,
These great men.
We will reason them mad in the morning,
On the way to our own madness,
As they pass out colored pamphlets.
Germs of the insane asylum.
By evening, they rise from calabashes,
We gravitate to their fire now.
A rusty red door in the basement waiting
Between lunacy and great passion has been flung open,
Men lately unleashed into the pull of public regard,
They will breathe fire into your eyes,
They will infect you with their madness,
Fate has noticed them now,
Let god be a drunken dupe.
I have seen some unafraid of swinging death,
Chests spoiled with the warm blood of the already dead,
I have seen men war for a cerebral conviction,
And dying for this by proxy.
There are not many of them left,
We have them now in bronze lockets,
As lasting poses in gallery corridors,
In poems like this that run on too long,
And the world now is a solitary song.
Still there are the women too,
Who kill the candle,
And go to sleep beside these vanished ones,
The other half of an idol is a woman defied,
She will be lost forever in the whispers,
We will find her in the scandals,
Polished from memorial,
She will transpire only at night,
Well-trained at this delicacy,
Yielding all but crumbs of spirit,
Not a single testimony of the backwoods
She has lived thru will be televised.
As consorts of great lunatics,
They would be known to us simply as Wife:
Wife of Martin,
Wife of Chaves,
Wife of Azikiwe,
Wife of Mandela,
Wife of Douglass,
Wife of Selassie,
Wife of Achebe,
Wife of Wilberforce,
Wife of Somebody.
And she will be a seed in a wild audience,
A line in a poem,
An item in a good song.
They did not tell you she has seen your god cry,
Watered his maladies,
Kissed his Succubus,
She was there when he first fractured a little,
Shined one last glorious shine,
Then she watched him perish,
A bullet in his box,
His work here was done.
We moved to another fire.
Her steady fingers guided his fight,
Her elbows slayed private tempests,
They did not tell you she clapped up a movement,
They did not tell you she massaged a war,
Fed the allies, smoked out the vipers,
They did not tell you that she birthed a mere man, then made a god of him.
As consorts of great lunatics,
They would be known to us simply by name,
These compelling women:
Husband of Coretta S. King
Husband of Rosa Parks,
Husband of Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti,
Husband of Muta Maathai,
Husband of Maya Angelou,
Husband of Florence Nkiru Nwapa
Husband of Margaret Thatcher,
Husband of Nana Yaa Asantewa,
Husband of Mary Slessor,
Husband of Sacajawea,
Husband of Miriam Makeba
Husband of Nina Simone,
Husband of Somebody.
You will find them in running gutters,
Glorious in the mud,
You will find them in the presence of noisome other-souls,
With little salt, and too much glitter,
You will find them in the eyes of a daughter
Full of questions,
Fables whose accuracy we now must swallow whole,
They would be known to us accurately by name,
The other half of an idol is a woman defied.