Paths and Other Poems by Ugochukwu Nwafor


Woods and termites, reverence and profanity,
Of godship, of glory and nothingness.
When those sacral relics commences a siege on
My spirit, I hope the termites have found a haven on your doorstep.
I, happily beleaguered—the wood, yearning for worms from time unknown,
Creeping like shape-shifter’s shadow, look, it has slipped in.

Worming through crimson cavities,
Till wriggling through those potent and wet alleys, like a salted worm,
Leaving tracks and tracks of fluttering dreams—me on a beach,
Beckoning the waves to suck me up, to drink me up,
Like the crystal-white sands, I became a devoured food,
A true offering…alas, I’ve been eaten,
My soul saltates inside me, I’ve been eaten clean.

A song for a Rising

Hear hear, the muezzin has awakened,
The hills would make good platforms,
Ears are shut for far-reaching absorptions
The winds have come to his pivotal aid:
He is the greatest, he commences…
Piety, behold my foot prints, I’ve dreamt on many
Moony nights about when your route was a one-long-endless
One. From the windows of my mind and crypt,
The chants are clear and pungent
Jabbing like fine-polished needles
Till the resolve of a thousand laws of men
Shatters on the altar of a quest,
Primordial as it seems, I like to think that
I have comrades, friends in arms we are,
Wandering beneath the canopy of epiphanies.
Mangroves upon mangroves, they lured us
To their peaks, now we, like the star-guided
Magi, are trailing along a path of starry-shadows…
O ala, mother of the first mother, ageless woman
Of all eastern glows, will you still hear us when we
Simulate the feat of the azan? Will your heart
Still palpitate to the charged currents of our libations
When we touch our foreheads on your womb
Only to call…only to say…only to remember…
Dust we all are, man and beast, spirit and flesh,
In and out, blown by the winds under those grovy
Orchards, knowing and unknowing, finding and losing,
Seeing and choosing not to see….O ala of crescent
Insignias, do you laugh and weep with me?
There once lived a joy in the wild and silent hinterlands,
In that voice of all unseen chants when the cosmos kept no secrets
When stars were clear enough for even the drunk to read.
When the moon shines they say, the cripple longs
For a walk; give me a radiant moon, I long for a distant
Walk in the sky.

A Sepia Cloud Shifted the Waves

One moment, their hands were clutched, solemn in the
Guise of worshippers, then a sepia cloud shifted the waves.
Torn, shredded, a pendulum in place, oscillating for the dance
That is yet to come, a true dreamer’s threshold knows no
Boundary; a sharp snore turned the ocean breeze to gray.
Burgeoning and burgeoning, is the blood-charted puzzle of
Heredity, timed mock-flights—his revealing boat.
So, are all wanderers lost?
In ashen glee, they assemble towards the colossal hall, for
The mirth much dreamt. Ran the revelers up a hillock, with
Tongs and spoons and oily hands, trailed by hot air, marooned
And barricaded in between, before toll-gates of jade-redolent
Porticoes, manned by sentries of his making,
And the road yonder is nothing but a maze.
So, are all wanderers lost?
At the end of the maze, he shuts his eyes with an exhale reeking
Of relief, but the lane forward terminates to the source of a sound.
Innumerable passersby cruising through, shimmering immortals,
With a slow tide, and a yawning fall marks the end visibly.
He grins, and down the cliff he dives, up the hillock he climbs over,
Through the hillock he loped…
A sepia cloud shifted the waves.


Two ancient arms outstretched on a horizontal axis,
Wings of a bird? No, wings of an amazon; known in two hues
Of light, our lady of monocles and monochromes whose arena sways liberties.

In your prudent presence, the world is masked,
The lord squelches the serf, as
The serf poisons his feet.

She stands on a platform with all-elements-tight eyes,
Etches of credits in place beneath, weighing
Causes like feathers and coins on a scale.

Eyes, behold a stagnant bird, standing
Tall as the mast of paradise,
Fattened and festering with malice and gold.

You are heavy with the vain burdens of the world, your wings
Are in position but flight like you once knew, innate, in an
Age of innocence has been rendered a feat of valiant wings…O were there?
Dances of black robes, from Samaria to Jericho,
Tempting a blind old hag. Her litanies thus ensues:
It has been written…it has been held…it is settled…

Okika’s groves have just come alive, the sacred monkeys just
Triggered a squint. Then two, four, six, count in dunes,
And so it goes on, till my orbs are glued to jungle theatrics;

And I’m here, still squinting at chatters.
Eyes are currently distant from scrolls and pages,
Head from circuit rostrums and domes of chancery,

Verses are conquering litanies therein, songs are indiscriminately
Defeating adversaries. It is swelling, flickering nerve-ends and hair breadths
As my world mislays its reticence on a cool noon; in ecstasy, I must walk.

Writer’s Bio
Ugochukwu P. Nwafor is a recent law graduate. He is a young mind driven towards the expression of his art through letters. He is not published yet, but has a collection of short stories, reasonably ready for publishing. He is currently working on the first draft of his debut novel and some essays on Odinani themes. He also writes poetry. Outside the serious business of literature, he enjoys travelling and is interested in cross-cultural heritage.