the coconut men of La Boca

for Pedro el cubano of La Boca, Cuba

La Boca is full of coconut
skin men who will not
allow a “no” to their
vamos a dar una fiesta. ¿vienes?” their
bare smooth muscled chests
is a king of tests
I say! their salsa
of beats causes me to sway in salsa
feats. that, or I am even more
moved by la dulce boca
and everything else of these coconut men.

they flaunt their fish
a thigh long and I wish
to taste of their boasted chef
grill, enjoy my coconut self.
but I am a mujer of sound
mind and I know more than a pound
it weighs, this sense so common
that I’ve got. so “no” to “come on!”
and “no” again, a fifth time,
to coconut drinks with men
of La Boca. Oh, la boca!

why does the mouth want!
why do these men vaunt!
the sea. coconut trees. and
la música, with a band
of men with salsa hips,
who drip miel from their lips!
“Pedro” of coconut skin and a glitter in his eye
“pass me la bebida de coco”, oh my!
por favor”. the secrets of La Boca
shall sleep here, between the sea
and la boca de Temi.

not particular-ly me

I’m not particular ’bout food:
nothing sweet, nothing sour,
salt to taste, dish with grace,
and I am content with my food.

I am, no, not particular
about my men; dark, owning
a smile, humour, and more
than rumour of English is all.

I am not particular ’bout
music. Congas and strings,
sekeres, not heavy
with bass, pianos. Bliss.

Not particular ’bout my runes:
a good metaphor pulls
your legs, rhyme makes you sing,
emotion tells the tale.

it is hard to love a man

it is hard to love a man
when he don’t want no loving.
it’s just hard to love a man
when no man’s wrote how.
it is mighty hard to love a man

without loving his smile, his charm
is hard not to love. a man
who wears his skin dark and his bum tight
is just hard not to love. a man
whose hands beat the drums of your heart
is mighty hard not to love. a man

-truth is, all men need loving-
is not hard to love.
touch him, give him woman spicy and he’s
just not hard to love
although I don’t know many women who can say,
“it is not mighty hard to love a man”.

Kò kàn bá mi lára mu ni

They ask me,
“How many lovers
do you keep awake
sketching rhymes to sing
of your beauty, dancing
folk pieces
to keep their hockshins
and hamstrings in shape
for your rare goggle?
And I say,
“A lady does not declare”

with a smile that
tells them to mind their business.
But they ignore it and ask,
“Is Adamu one of them?”
“Maybe”, is all the answer I give,
but they press on further,
“Do you love him?”

In exasperation, I say,
“Adamu is tall, slim,
beautifully dark, firm like the ìrókò,
his shoulders broad, ready
to bear all of me up high.
In fact,
Adamu is my trusted friend,

kò kàn bá mi lára mu ni!”.

They do not surprise me
with their next line of
inquisition: “What of
our dear Imọ́lè?”
and I am frank in my answer.
“Imọ́lè smiles
and all feels right

with the world. His hands
beat the bàtá and my feet
dance away all their sorrow.
Oh that I could dance
till our hairs become grey
and few, our backs hunched!
The problem is

kò kàn bá mi lára mu ni“.

I sigh just as they exclaim,
“Haaa!”. “Hmmm. Nothing can be
wrong with Ikenna though”. I
smile thinking, “How true”. I
go on to prove them right
telling of how Ikenna fashions
Edikang Ikong, Ofe Akwu, and Gbẹ̀gìrì

in a way that I fear
would cause my buttocks
to become huge, like the Obudu,
from overindulgence, of how he plays
with Ifeanyi, throwing him up in the air,
and I instead see one of our unborn ones,
and of how, sadly,

kò kàn bá mi lára mu ni.

Before they anymore delved
into the matter, I hurriedly
tell them about Òyìnbó George
whom I fondly call ‘Gee’, “His fair
skin glimmers in the May sun
like an endless sea of an African
jewel. His legs stretch out

from under him, long, shapely,
as if Olódùmárè set apart a decade
to carve them. I love to watch
him play English football
with finesse that makes me sing
high notes of praise.
It’s just such a pity that

kò kàn bá mi lára mu ni“.

weathered

image
image credit instagram/towdimu

for Todi,
thank you for the photo
helps me rejoice in being weathered.

it don’t worth much
but it mine an’ ef’n
if it don’t make it fine thro’ th’ storm,
i sure be glad i got it

‘cause it mine.
may moan ‘bout ‘ts edges all rough
but am mighty glad i got it.
‘ts many-a-splinter, leaky patches make a man sad

just like th’ rough edges i moan ‘bout
but it mine;
th’ leaky patches, testy splinters
all mine too.

amen, it all mine!
th’ chipped stern, tenduh gunwale
‘s all mine too, an’
that sure put a smile on ma bow.

ma weary-brown stern with now-blu’ gunwale
bring food home at night, thank heavens; that
put a smile on ma bow
and i sure be glad i got that.

my beautiful black hair

“all that is black
is beautiful”,
or so Lawino thinks.
an untruth
if she ever met my hair.
although, truth be told,
it is not black
but a brown that bears great likeness
to the muddy pools that linger
on our street after many rains.
I wistfully call it ‘cocoa brown’
to lend it some elegance
and on some days, it does sing
bitter cocoa only to be appeased
by the sweetness of my charm.
and no one dares say
that it is no beauty
(for its maker, a fierce
warrior with flaming swords
for hands, would take offence).
Still I bear a grudge
against the gang of thick tightly-
wed curls that lie placid
on my head for it fails me:
it refuses to sit tight under
the army of pins that I with
frustration push through. Neither
does it bow to the wide-, gentle-,
fine-toothed combs I run through.
Maybe it is only proud,
unbending, like its ancestors?
No, not so, for you would see me
sway with glee if it framed
my walnut brown face,
punctuated with a groove in the chin
that shows itself for only the
most admiring of onlookers,
in pride like the brazen tail
of the male peafowl. But this hair
eludes me; even when I pay homage
with exotic òrí and oil stolen
from the kernels of the argan,
it sulks still. In anger, I threaten
to smother it,
enslave it.
But only in anger,
for, maybe, its beauty does not lie
in pride nor its elegance
in demureness. its beauty, I fear,
is its blackness.

Them Blues

angbb16qdrg4iopdcjss7825v5516262.jpg-final
image credit flickr/digitaltemi

Them blues never let me be
like sniffles in flu season. I
just can’t shake off this spell
them blues have put on me.

I sit mute watching life go on
forever, unblinking. Clouds rush
in, clouds lift off. It’s the same blues,
different shades but the same hues.

They’ve got me and all of the space within
pulling them apart like the days before and the
tomorrows lurking ahead. Yet, they find each
other in the secret place of forever. Even

at night, when the sun forbears to lend
its light, I still see, dream of, the timeless
couple: the sky, the sea, being together blue.