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Passing Place & Other Poems

Chika Jones



Passing Place


In Scotland

There are some narrow roads

and every few metres in

a pregnant bulge to the side

called a passing place.

Now,

despite the compass

skyscrapers and moon landings

despite the light bulb

telephones and penicillin

despite our constitutions

legislations and supreme courts

the mind remains a wild place

fertile ground for the beautiful and the horrible

 

And,

despite the jury and the judges

our laws strain like cloth,

and fail like sieve,

to hold what seethes within.

 

So,

besides the black and white

besides words

besides the edge

of the executioner’s blade

and the curve of the bullet

that comes too late

what keeps the darkness at bay?

what keeps evil from our beds?

 

In Scotland

There are some narrow roads

and every few metres in,

a pregnant bulge to the side

a passing place.

 

And,

when a car would come upon another car

a staredown on opposite sides

one driver would decide to use the passing place

the bigger patch of road, beside

A place to wait

to let the other pass

like the compromises we make

the backseat our desires take

the gentle closing of a mouth

the swallowing,

letting go.

 

A reminder

that we can all be passing places

a respite from all that is coming,

a place to wait out the storm

where, there is no right of way

where, there is no right or wrong

there,

in Scotland,

there are some narrow roads.


 

Can't Fly Without Thinking of Death


Jé ká sọ pé imọle ò kú,

 

in the morning

the sun will rise on a freshly swept compound,

make it shine like a mirror

 

groaning like an old thing

the fire will come alive

 

Jé ká sọ pé imọle ò kú,

 

stewed meat will sit in the pan

jollof rice in the pot

fried plantains on white paper towels

palm wine in a plastic yellow cup

 

Jé ká sọ pé imọle ò kú,

 

and in the after noon

I will walk between the ridges

pick whatever is ripe and eager to feed me,

kiss the ones I love

and by evening

like a foolish child

i will decide not to die

 

Jé ká sọ pé imọle ò kú,

 

say Imole woke on a day like this

caught a tune from the birds perched on the wire

winked at the girl selling koko

sang to oak

bent bamboo in his palms

mastered the timbre in his voice


Jé ká sọ pé imọle ò kú,

 

Say he did not fall into the hands of evil men

say he sang in the studio,

but was never good enough for radio,

say the evil eye that trails success passed him over

and he went home every night,

sang to his wife,

sang to his son,

and the sadness remained in his voice,

never made it out,

but did not die.

 

Jé ká sọ pé imọle ò kú.


 

Words Against Nothingness


Black bull beside wood fence in green field

scratching head against post

hair, against stone

Seals moaning in bay

cries echoing over waves

carrying over water


Hares hopping

dum dum dum

in dying green field

Woman kneeling beside standing stones

flowers nestled in crook of arm

leaf against cotton

lips moving in prayer

soft flesh against soft flesh

Heather clinging to green

dropping off behind stones

petals against air

Clouds seating on hills

foam against stone

boys pirouette in green field

bicycles idling

cloth against flesh

boys caught in joy

laughter against throat

fuel pump in empty street

lone leaf crosses road

dry leaf against sand

promise of new town

sign settling into time

wood against soil

Honesty box bereft eggs

temporarily trapped air against glass

chai, milk, leaves

tea against porcelain

House sitting empty in greenfield

roof partly gone

stones black from abandonment

windows like empty eye sockets

wind against stone, and wood

Light catching long arms of white windmills

Gentle giants in mist of green field

sun & wind against metal.




 

 

Chika Jones is a performance poet and writer who lives in Southeastern England. He lived most of his life in Lagos, Nigeria and writes about the city, gender based violence, the Biafra war and the pursuit of joy. He won a national poetry slam in Lagos in 2013, and has performed at the Lagos International Poetry Festival and several others. He attended the Farafina Creative Writing workshop in 2016 curated by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and has been commissioned by MacArthur Foundation to write and perform poems creating awareness for voters. Since moving to England in 2021, he has performed at Jawdance, Sunday Papers Live in London and other spaces. He was part of the Lyrici Arts production – Soul Food, which toured the Medway in October 2022. He is currently working on his first collection of poetry and other projects.


 



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