American Twang

A better soul
In a stale haiku
On the back of a cereal box,
Than I will ever be
On the ledge of a bridge,
With bare quaking buttocks
in February’s chill.

Behind me,
There is an audience
of early-risers in sunny cars,
And cops with treats,
And nuns with Hail Mary’s,
My Nubian form
is cut into the
Franciscan skyline etc.

A better soul
Than I would ever be,
From behind the fancy podium,
Necktie and trembling fingers,
Well-dressed in a dying trade.

And for my people skill,
Or lack thereof,
And all that bad stage light,
A climbing migraine follows.

Then occasional giggles from the back rows,
And suits who get up to leave,
While they still can.
And the old woman red in the face,
Then the eye-catcher in the front row,
With come-hither eyes,
Tells me to go back to Nigeria,
Or whatever jungle I claim,
I am a disgusting old man,
I will die in my sleep etc.

She is yanked away spitting,
without her red shoes,
The crowd goes wild,
I can feel this love.

I am often a better soul
in my own company,
I steal what is left of theirs,
By the time I am done there,
We become fresh rivals,
Depraved and suspicious of the world,
Of the birds and trees,
Of babies and of books,
Out of our minds with grief and nonsense.

More people with ruthless
one-liners waiting for me under the awning,
More wannabe writers,
More broken poets in the balcony,
I walk away from all that horror.

A better soul,
With beer or rum and some quiet,
As I listen to the lover’s
Quarrel and fuck in the dark.

The dawn is heavenly,
The hell comes next,
When I read for food,
To your full-of-fat descendants,
As I sign covers
And taste the ongoing offense of
Being a peddler of vitriol,
Disguised as bestsellers,
It stays there at the back of my gullet,
All the things I have penned
For summers and sunsets
For top 10 magazines,
For the lies the editor spins,
For the press and the blonde lassies.

And for this:

At the end of another donkey day,
My next fight with my blond mistress,
Will transpire in the wee small hours of Tuesday,
Her impenetrable ignorance,
Of the things I have stuck up my business end
And this will be profoundly frustrating,
The things I think well about,
And speak of badly.

A wild room of stupor,
And searing stupid accents,
Sharpened Nigerian cusses,
And drawn punches,
Her nasal redneck American twang,
Dishing it to me in what would be good English,
As good as it gets at this time of night, that is.

My granite Igbo tongue
Grows heavy, soaking the general scorn
As I cannot do battle valiantly,
Though accurately angered by life and all else,
As I should be.

Wise stinging words do little injury between us,
Our unalike tongues,
Our useless explanations,
They make boiling fights end in laughter,
And a kingly rumble in the sack
to shame the devil.

A better soul,
Imprisoned by my own words,
I am finest when I mine the odium
And hide it behind great words like odium etc.

To hurl this hunger about town,
In search of healthy American words,
Is no easy feat.

Little wonder they are so angry.

How can I make their souls as good as mine,
When I am neck-deep
In passions and fires and such
That will never be good enough in this language,
And with this granite Igbo tongue.


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