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August Debut

Issue 2; October/November


Maxim Uzo Uzoatu


Uzor Maxim Uzoatu

UZOATU was born on December 22, 1960. He directed his first play 'Doctor of Football' in 1979. He was the 1989 Distinguished Visitor at The Graduate School of Journalism, University of Western Ontario, Canada. He is the author of Satan's Story, A Play of Ghosts, The Missing Link, and God of Poetry. He is currently writing the text for photographer Owen Logan's caricature of Michael Jackson in a Nigerian adventure entitled 'Masquerade'. Educated at universities in Ife and Lagos, he is married with four children and resides in Lagos, Nigeria. His short story 'Cemetery of Life' was recently published in Wasafiri (November/December 2007). He has also published poetry and criticism in and the literary press.


She builds her nest
Inside my skull,
The cherubic siren.
She snuggles into bed
Amid reeds and twigs
And lays eggs of boon
That yield jewels of bounty.
She wakes with fire
What is fast asleep
Inside the noddle
And lays bare on ice
What is best hidden
Outside the lobes.
No secret is beyond
The throb of her presence,
An apocalyptic matter.
She is death and transition
Nestling at the portals
Of birth and being.
Sing on songbird:
To see this poem out
There is no other line.


I Did the Dummy of ThisDay
(For Nduka Obaigbena)

I did the dummy of ThisDay,
A copy turned cradle,
A deed of second service
For a swashbuckling vendor of visions
Who envisioned a mush of colour
To massage posh leaders
And the cognate company
They keep with corporate ego.

For a song the poet delivers
An image of root and gravity,
Armed with the story
Of a leader with the common touch
To gather latent talent
At the crossroads of ascent
Before the maze of revelation
Of sucklings as ancestors.



Dear Teacher and Pagan
(To Wole Soyinka)

Dear teacher and pagan,
With prim fronds
I thee wed.

Is there palmwine in Paradise?

The homy spirit unbinds,
And the grotto of Ogun
Bears the crypt of the word.

Can a god slay its maker?

Homespun idols overturn the alien pantheon,
Though the deities damn the demise.

Is this juju or is it rage?

Art is nothing made complex,
And poetry is a death sentence.

Do monkeys learn to scan?

The catechism of heathenism relieves:
Ancient answers beggar modern questions.

Must scissors avoid white hairs?

Now the poem flees the page...
And the poet staggers on stage...


Achebe in a Wheelchair
(For Chinua Achebe)

The age is doomed to stand
The sovereign wheel of chairmanship,
For the chair is exclusive to the oracle.

On iroko the eagle surveys the horizon
As earthlings chew proverbs with the ancestors,
The wit of the worship of the word.

Now accident cannot essence unseat
The Pope deigns to teach catechism
But with which buttocks shall we ants sit?

In war, words outwar warriors,
Then the story takes the chair,
For the chair is exclusive to the oracle.


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