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 lofty 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.
They beg me to live another day.
Ok, I say. If you insist. Okay.

A better soul
Than I would ever be,
From behind the fancy podium I now occupy,
Necktie and trembling fingers,
Well-dressed in a dying trade.
Sorry, I’m late.
Serious business earlier.
I’ here now.

And for my people skill,
And that bad stage light,
A climbing migraine follows.
Occasional giggles from the back rows,
And PhDs with dreadlocks who get up to leave,
While they still can.
I look African, I smell the same,
I must sound that way.
Then the eye-catcher in the front row,
With come-hither eyes,
She’s my one wry applause,
She leans in to tell me to go back to Africa,
Or whatever jungle I claim,
That I am a disgusting old man,
That I will die in my naked sleep etc.
Go home, you nasty.

She is yanked away spitting,
Without her red shoes,
With my necktie,
This is America, she screams.
The crowd goes wild,
I can feel this love.
I’m ready now,
I am often a better soul
In vile company,
Otherwise, I steal what is left of theirs,
By the time I am done here,
We become fresh rivals,
Depraved and suspicious of the world,
Of the birds and trees,
Of babies and of books,
Of immigrants and refugees,
Out of our minds with grief and nonsense.

More PhDs with ruthless
one-liners wait for me under the green awning,
Purple in golden light,
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 dusk is heavenly,
The hell comes next,
She has a key.
How’d it go.
I read for food to your full-of-fat descendants,
I signed covers too.

Something sizzles. She turns up the radio volume,
She swigs and swings, forcing a wok to obey.
I can taste the ongoing offense of
Being a peddler of vitriol
Disguised as bestsellers.
It stays there at the back of my gullet,
All the women I have aged,
All the deaths I have penned,
For summers and sunsets
For top 10 magazines,
For the lies the editor spins,
For the blonde lassies.

And for this:

The end of another donkey day,
My next fight is with my sista mistress,
It will transpire in the wee small hours of tomorrow,
Her impenetrable curiosity,
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 patois twang,
Dishing it to me in what would be good English,
My granite Igbo tongue grows heavy,
I cannot do battle valiantly from sleep,
Though accurately angered by life and all else,
As I should be.
Wise stinging words do little injury between us,
Her unalike tongue,
My 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 words,
I am finest when I mine the odium
And hide it behind great words like odium etc.

I’m up and about,
To hurl hunger about town,
To search for 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 bookfires and such
I will never be good enough in this language,
With this granite Igbo tongue,I stop by the bridge.
What a view.
Here comes the nuns.

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