Airports are for waiting
pacing, pouting, pissing, prowling &
falling off high-heeled shoes,
leading luggage astray.
Let language commingle with organic ease.
Orality, a human compulsion,
comes to the fore.
Let native words
spew out of furred tongues,
let jarred nerves convey raw emotions.
Welcome to the travel theatre.
Here, transition is key.
Goodbyes could be ephemeral
& eternal.
Put them in labelled boxes:
all anxieties that pile up
at airport terminals need labels.
At the waiting area are people, real people,
transit people, fluid people, people’s people:
these boxes belong with them.
The gleaming antiseptic floors only kiss shoe heels,
they are promiscuous for the touch of souls.
Ditto for the seats that don’t creak from the weight of the
well-travelled, passport-&-boarding-pass-in-hand,
Little cousin of blessed memory,
had I known that you craved audience
for that moment of your
dance of abandon,
I would have watched you more
keenly, more closely.
O Lord, teach me to discern
tender moments, minor moments
that pass innocuously into the void
like my little cousin’s last Alanta dance.
I wish I had looked beyond myself
& caught a glimpse of his open teeth,
that fairweather smile
& his corpulent belly,
his grey underpants
streaked with dried faeces,
watched his hands flutter
like a sick atrium or two,
watched his legs shoot out in measured rhythm
& his face contort into a spell of
pretend tardive movements,
his lips mouthing, ‘Alanta, Alanta, Alanta.’
But his dance slipped, unnoticed
unlike his dying.
No gardens in the Garden City,
just roads that shine black
in the night rain
& lady mannequins
manning the streets.
Our cab driver is an unemployed graduate,
he is quick to quip,
quick to volunteer copies of his resume
stowed away in the glove compartment.
We are heading to Casablanca
definitely not in Morocco.
Casablanca is the leading Garden City Night Club,
Casablanca, the locals say,
is where iniquities
& bodies baring them
retire to at night;
we believe,
and to this, we say
Outside Casablanca,
makeshift stalls are watched by
oil lamps flaring monoxide skywards at God,
dim light salsas on crisp cellophanes
of Gold Circle Condoms, on Action Bitters & Oris slims.
A male mannequin mans its entrance,
he spots a frown
that dissolves at the sight
of crisp tips.
The poet from Kenya
sporting his plaid jacket
doesn’t look legal;
Our man refuses his entry.
We compete with Wizkid’s croon,
‘your bombom bigger than Bombay’
& shout into Our Man’s cauliflower ear,
he is a poet, he is a poet,
he is a big big poet.
Bewildered, Our Man asks,
“What is a poet?”

About the poet:

Dami Ajayi is the author of two poetry collections.