Poems by Uche Ogbuji
Ḿmádụ́ Si Àlà Pụ̀tá
The one yellow our perspective's peaked arc
Enfolds is not a yoke to cuff our necks
Hard to the field. This food is massive enough
To burn an hour or two in supine sloth;
Shouldn't industry then snap to interject?
This womb is massive enough to encourage
Our tarrying one or two pale aeons, clinging
To deceptively deep walls of the mother
Well until she would, fearful for our brother
Species, needs expel us, fit-start winging
Uncertainly as baby bird fresh over
What seemed an impossible cliff until
The parent nudge put wind up young feathers.
Should we fail to slash our natal tether
We pillow on spent placenta and fall still.
This cradle is our gift but not our right.
Once the cotyledon has sheared the seed's hide
It can't abide the ground. It thrives in thrust
Towards air and glow. Each life wrapped dust to dust
Is moult skin as we grow and flesh out wide.
We can't abide the ground yet our roots will
Always fix the point from which we once emerged.
It's time to push away the teat, to hunt,
To forage across the void for fattened fund
Of worlds which but await our fledgling courage.
"Mmádu Si Àlà Pụta"—Igbo proverb: "mankind emerged from the earth, from the ground"
Wrapped in radiation
Shielding she turns her idle
Eye towards Àlà, home.
Zoomed in, The blue and white mote
Whelms her sense. She gawks, rapt.
Wrought of million-year
Processes, Àlà achieved
Her crowning species,
Which then took mere centuries
To reduce her biomes to rot.
Reining round her thoughts,
The Raptor-class craft lurches
Into Mars grav-well.
Hail this bleak second chance, life
Within a new matron's reign.
Manus deae! For souls
Plucked skywards, holds anguish brain
For Christian endgame.
Truth is select planetfall,
Half-lit seed for remade man.
Àlà—Igbo Earth Mother goddess, and also the name for planet Earth.
Once any race has built up energies
Enough that only light of their local source
Survives the usurpation on its course
Against their sky, what first seems dire disease
Reveals itself in full, emergent form
As mark of racial metamorphosis;
Only one move can restore the surfaces
Of crystal infinite, put back the norm
Where stars serve both the myth and the explorer.
The stretch of that race towards their ancient gods
Shifts them from stellar desert on pseudopods,
Away from their artificial aurora.
Look back and there! Projected as on a dome,
Those same junk lights are guys, beacons back home.
Phenomenon of Time to a Gálapagos Gálapago
Enero eyes the steadily cornering
Sun across zenith, blued flame of egg yolk
For all these punk creatures twitching their lives'
Short order promises. They cannot know
What it means for lines of each heartbeat's eyeful
To sharpen up only for the rust of knives
Against slack nerves to spoil the clarity.
From his distance strange velocity derives.
Enero seeing Lupe once again knows her
So instantly, gone these many returns
Of albatrosses. How, skimming all the wives
Across the interim does first mating
Melt back into memory on scent distilled
Through the one day's eternity that survives
This present telescoping of experience.
How much distance strange velocity derives!
Enero used to be his own foot creep in moments;
These slowly stitched haste away under his shell,
Leaving a pocket from which sense contrives
With so much remembered to accelerate
The westing from his hottest reference point,
With thrill of his own tween twerp jump and jive
Caught stock still as a rocket on the front page.
From his distance strange velocity derives.
Despite that we with paired-up eyes
Would worry roots of everything
We've hunched our backs against the skies
And shied from where those roots begin.
We feebly prick with satellites,
Hopscotch from jet lag to Lagrange;
The feeble waste of rocket ships
Is multiplied each rocket launch.
Our politics grind small while we
Sit stranded in our dwindling wealth;
So grandly we claim outward science—
Explainer, first explain yourself.
Catastrophes, guns and disease
Rebuke our fear of death in space;
It could do for us all at once,
The blow from some celestial mace.
If we follow our paired-up eyes,
Account a flood of our own numbers,
We'd fashion arks for beyond the skies,
Scavenging out where science hungers.
Who does he think he is, that renewed child?
At age three he was carefully assessed
And charted somewhere on the autistic
Spectrum, then subject to a new found test
Of epigenetic process in his brain.
Who'd he think he was that none could explain?
Who did his parents think he was, that child,
Before the methylation treatment's run?
Was he father's extremely male extract,
Was he mother's failure to love someone?
How did those quarrels complicate the case?
Who do his parents think he is, this new face?
Who did the doctors think he was, test child?
Were they scatter-shot treating the entire
Family? What then of the boy himself?
Were his unexpressed genes curtailed desire?
How will his own offspring fare under their plan?
What do the experts name this altered clan?
Uche Ogbuji, born in Calabar, Nigeria, lived in Egypt, England and elsewhere before settling near Boulder, Colorado. A computer engineer and entrepreneur by trade, his poetry chapbook, Ndewo, Colorado (Aldrich Press, 2013) is a Colorado Book Award Winner, and a Westword 2015 Award Winner ("Best Environmental Poetry"). His poems, published worldwide, fuse Igbo culture, European classicism, American Mountain West setting, and Hip-Hop influences. Among other editorial projects he runs @ColoradoPoetry on Twitter, co-created and co-hosts the Poetry Voice podcast. A selection of his poems was included in the Best "New" African Poets 2015 anthology. He was a finalist for Nigeria's 2016 Eriata Oribhabor Poetry Prize.