Death is the equalizer.


We all are united in her.


We all become equal in her embrace:


The buried and the dog-eaten,


The rich and the poor,


The strong and the weak,


The killer and the killed,


The victor and the victim,


The wicked and the kind,


The ruler and the ruled,


The hunter and the hunted,


The predator and the prey,


The conqueror and the conquered,


The deceiver and the deceived,


The terrorist and the terrorized,


The hater and the hated,




Yes, all die and death is the equalizer.


All’s vanity and vanity’s all in death:


The puissance of the intimidating iroko,


The smiles of the happy hibiscus,


The beauty of the dazzling rose,


The magnificence of the wealthy lily,


The sting of the angry ragweed,


The terror of the dangerous Bougainville,


Yea, today green in the water meadows,


And tomorrow a heap of ash is all that is left.




But we live to forget


And die to be forgotten.


No thought at all of us shall linger,


Not of an angry sting or a dangerous terror;


For we are nothing and nothing shall remain,


So when tomorrow-people peek,


Nothing at all of us is there but a heap of ash.




Yet beyond the mounds of ash heaped to the skies,


The heart of the sage shivers in disbelief


At the scarlet harvest that trails our pilgrimage


Here in the middle of nowhere:


The ravaging of mankind in unending pillage;


The grisly and inexplicable mindlessness


That shows no distinction between born and unborn;


The daggers that slither and slit


The cords of perfect creation yet uncreated


To draw maroon feed for mindless souls


Marooned on the forgotten isles of hopelessness


Where, at the touch of the scarlet spray,


Golden dust morphs into dusts of gold


And drunken gods run amok


In mummified and rusty brains


To shower in blood


That must quench the thirst


Of dusty and dreary deserts.




But after everything said and done,


When the day is finally dawn


And the dew settled on the morning bloom;


When the endless streak of time is worn


And round the fire at the hearth we gather


To peek closely at the faces of one another;


When the skin is drawn and the bones atrophied;


When we peer at the haze of the still lake


And eavesdrop on the endless mum


Of the muted shrouds;


Then it suddenly dawns on us all.


No chant or hiss ever shall sound;


No buzz and certainly no fuss.


Even those long gone,


Maintain a godly silence.


Who now can whisper to us what lies beyond?


Who is he that has trodden the shores and back?


Who can regale us with tales of the sacred silence?


Who can besmirch us with the enlivening puke


Of the besotted gods,


Drunken with the blood of our people,


Tossed now and then to them in zealous frenzies?


But here we sit and wait for a moan.


Beyond the still lake all's quiet.


Here we sit and wait for our final moan.


Beyond the clouds all’s spooky quiescence


None vouchsafes us what lies beyond.


All’s vanity and vanity’s all at the end.


And like children of the same father


Here we sit and wait in the middle of nowhere


While the hoary earth bears us all in her tired arms.


Hmmmm! Hmmmm! Hmmmm!



Author's Notes/Comments: 

In Nigeria, violent death, senseless killings and maiming have gradually become a nightmare Nigerians have learnt to live with. Anybody can be killed at any moment and anywhere and nobody would make a fuss. In the last decade, Nigeria has become a country where a day that passes without tens of innocent people, mostly children and women, killed in a most brutal and barbaric manner would be an abnormality. Certain brutes in human skin have developed a rare taste for slaughtering Nigerians within Nigeria all in the name of religion, politics and money, and the state has been totally incapacitated in coming to the rescue of these innocent and defenceless Nigerians. This has become scarily prevalent and ubiquitous in our country, but even scarier is the new-found acceptance the trend is gaining as a norm. This poem captures one of the numerous periods that I find myself reflecting on these killings and how we arrived here. This time, I happened to be in a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) vehicle travelling from Stadium to Tafawa Balewa Square in the heart of Lagos at about 08:45AM on 26 March 2018.