Poetry from Laura Kaminski & Siraj Sabuke

PETALS OF LIGHT
Darkness has veiled us
In the heart
Of this labyrinth
In this season
Of no moonlight
How do we safe-shuttle
Our bones and flesh
From this vultures-ridden
Cemetery of a home
To the lit path
That leads to the garden
Of petals of light?

-Siraj A Sabuke

*****

FIND THE LAMP AND FILL IT
for Siraj A Sabuke
The moon is veiled that we might learn
to miss her face. She hides her light
that our feet might learn to find their
way by touch, learn to read the messages
left for us in the cemetery’s dust.
Just because the vultures perch upon
these trees around the graves does not
mean they will feast on us. But loathing
and fear tempt us to cut off our own
limbs, to offer them like money on top,
a bribery that lurking things may turn
away from ours, from us, go blind small
and let us pass in safety, unmolested.
But in truth, vultures will have their
feast. Should we wish them on someone
else instead of you and me? The moon is
veiled, not that we might stumble, not
that we might fail to find our way. She
hides her light so that we might stop
casting our own blindness on everything
around us, blame the darkness for being
so oppressive and misleading. Who picks
a lamp from the closet and polishes its
surface when the light around him shines
sufficient? Who, in moonlight, remembers
to take time to thread and trim the wick?
The moon is veiled that we might learn
to miss her face, veiled that we might be
reminded to fill our own hearts with oil.
-Laura M Kaminski

*****

THE OIL RIG IS DRY
Are you telling us
to stay sane and sober
after being intoxicated
by the fluids
of this oppressive darkness?
Tell us, now
how do we tell
ghosts from ghouls
when the sun
itself is eclipsed
and the moon
imprisoned in the cage
of a deep sleep
behind thick dark clouds
leaving us in the heart
of this pathless forest
with a dry and broken lamp
whose wicks are eaten
by termites of fear
and worms of diminishing hope?
The vultures are here
and they must feed
and there is all over the land
smells of decaying flesh
shouldn’t the moon shine
so we could bury our dead?
Our hearts are dry
there is no oil in the market
even if there is
how do we refuel our thoughts
when our minds and stomachs
are being arrested by hunger?
Let the moon not oppress
us with its absence
we are drowning into darkness
our feet are wobbling about
our eyes are covered with webs
our head is stumbling
let the moon not fail us!
How do we find our way
when the lamp is broken
and the oil rig is dry
How do we find home?
-Siraj A Sabuke
*****
RANSOM
The darkness enveloped in your words is thick
and heavy, so much that steady beat of my own
heart stumbles when I read them. It is hard not
to give in, to fold my knees and let my body
collapse upon the road. I sent a message your
way to remind you of the lamp within you, but
your reply tells me that there is no oil left for it,
and the wick’s been eaten, scavenged by fear’s
termites and the other parasites that devour
hope. I wrap my cloak around me tighter in this
moment, though it is much too thin to keep
the fluid of the dark from leaking in and soaking
through my skin clear to the marrow of my bones.
My son, your mother’s one remaining eye has
grown dim with weeping, drenching the remaining
kindling with which I might light a fire in your heart.
Sometimes, my son, we are illuminated, we shine
and carry messages. At other times, we’re silent,
merely human, and we stumble in the long hours
before dawn. But so be it. I will give my head
permission to fall upon my chest. They have always
told us: WHEN VULTURES SURROUND YOU, TRY
NOT TO DIE. But so be it. Let them come. They
will find no nourishment upon my bones. Let them
come with their putrid breath and stinking talons,
tear and rip the few remaining tough strands of
flesh from me. I will set them a feast, for ten nights
I will feast them, keep them busy and distracted
picking at me. I will become both host and meat,
feast them until they are drunk and lethargic. In
these ten days, my son, do not come near this
place where prices are offered and ransoms paid.
In ten days, there will be enough light for digging
graves. Four sunsets more and you’ll see your
inheritance, reflective pearl rising whole from east
horizon. My son, stand tall when you see that moon.
-Laura M Kaminski

*****

SACRIFICE
These words you speak
are bile-bitter to the heart
but mellifluous to the ears
’cause they spring forth
new wild seedlings of hope
and a flood washing away fear
But, will you truly tilt
your head unto your chest
mixing reason with feelings?
There is more to give than
offering yourself as meal
to the army of hungry vultures
The raging torrents of tears
flooding from your eyes
have rekindled a blazing fire
in my heart (which I need most)
It will out-shine the fluids of darkness
that enliven the fear that plagues me
Do not sacrifice your body
to ungrateful flesh-eating creatures,
mother, on my behalf,
’cause I will need the steams
of wisdom burning from the pores
of your wrinkled skin, yes mother,
I will need the map
carved by age on your skin
I will need your one eye
of an eagle to unriddle this maze
for those ten nights, mother,
instead of feasting your flesh to vultures
Let us “TRY NOT TO DIE”
so that they will hover in vain
above our undying heads
again and again until they are tired
and fallen to the charms of sleep
mother, together, we shall inherit the moon
-Siraj A Sabuke

*****

LET US TRY NOT TO DIE

I have swallowed the bark of sorrow’s bitter
tree so often, the tang of it no longer burns
my tongue. I have eaten the leaves of grief
so frequently it’s easy to forget that it is
not from them that I derive my nourishment.
I have wept the tears of loss and – should
I admit this? – fear of loss, of losing you,
my son, to this overspreading dark. I know
you have ever been a warrior and a hunter
for that wild wisdom, wild strength that only
seems to surface in us in the dark hours after
the fuel of hope has been exhausted. As you
say, the vultures wait. And as you say, we
will out-wait them. If I am not to sacrifice my
flesh as ransom, then, from our empty pockets,
this waiting is the only coin we have left
to spend. So be it. Let it be our virtue and our
wisdom, let it be our arsenal, this patience.
Already, sliver-moon is showing in the sky.
Let us wait and stay wakeful, TRY NOT TO DIE.
-Laura M Kaminski
*****
Siraj A Sabuke lives in New Bussa, Niger State of Nigeria. He studies English Language at Usmanu Dan Fodiyo University, Sokoto. He become interested in fine arts and literature since Junior Secondary School days. He started writing poetry after reading the soul warming works of Abubakar Gimba, Tanure Ojaide, Niyi Osundare, Laura M Kaminski, BM Dzukogi and host of others. He sees writing as a life that must be lived.
Laura M Kaminski is on the editorial staff of both Right Hand Pointing and Praxis Magazine Online. She is the author of several poetry collections and chapbooks, including Dance Here (Origami Books, Lagos, Nigeria, 2015) and Considering Luminescence (2015); her most recent chapbook, 19 Ghazal Street (2015), is available from Amazon and elsewhere.

12 thoughts on “Poetry from Laura Kaminski & Siraj Sabuke”

  1. This is an amazing view of inner-thoughts put into words that are so vivid. Thank you both.

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