Marvel Chukwudi: OGENE and Other Poems

By Marvel Chukwudi Pephel


Ogene*, the town crier’s noisy companion! The errand bird of metallic descent What message seeks freedom in your belly? Is it a message that will festoon Our hearts with happiness Or that that leaves a man Paralyzed with grief? Ogene, we welcome you with your ding-donging flappings; Tell us what only gods can envisage Tell us what fate’s hand has weaved Tell us ! O tell us what brought you out

From your cosy man-made nest.

* Ogene- Ibo word for “gong”.

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I woke up As a blank slate Yet to be written upon. The years of boyhood As well churned life’s dust Upon my impressionable face; I was told the path to tread, The path of the good and just. Right must be right And wrong wrong. I took the path I was shown; The path the predecessors Had known.

And when later

I felt I was somewhat different I still kept walking On the known path Lest I be thought otherwise. But when my soul Burnt with an undying yearning To have its natural rum I paused, a heavy unease hanging Over me; The fear of being thought awkward For not following the crowd Left a web of confusion On my face; But I stumbled, And stepped off the kerb Seeking no man’s opinion

To follow my kindred spirits.

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Masquarades Frolicking, All white, Like celestial beings. Frolicsome children Feeding their mouths

May tell tales.

And I pity you, sister Who is wearing a tight skirt

And has a suku.1

* suku: a type of hairstyle that a woman must not be seen with during Eyo festival.

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African Woman With a basket on her head I adore your native attire. When you walk and men gaze Do you pick offence African woman? I love those beads that adorn your neck

And love your colourful buba;*

I adore your native attire. If I run after you Would you in anyway feel embarrassed African woman? Even when you tread bare footed It does not betray your beautiful dress; I adore your native attire. You there, wearing Ankara2 Excuse me. I have this to say to you: African woman

I adore your native attire.

* Buba- a type of dress worn by African.
* Ankara- an African fabric.

Marvel Chukwudi Pephel was born in the early 90s in Aba, Abia State, Nigeria. His passion for poetry was kindled when he came first in an NYSC literary competition/ lecture of the Aba zone in 2006 (while still in secondary school). He has contributed to both national and international pages and anthologies.

He is a graduate of Applied Biochemistry from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nigeria, and has a poetry collection ready for publication. He currently resides in Awka, Anambra State, where he is researching into forms and stylistics.

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  • Ogene and Other Poems
  • Poem
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