You have heard it said before
that poetry makes no water jump
blows not the wind it divines
builds no pyramids nor does it
repair bridges or start anything afresh.
Yet in the common tongue of those
who love to feel terror of survival
the survival of mouth as mouth alone
the worshiped word is enough
to expiate crimes and to lay honour
upon whom the pleaded grace of song has fallen.
So to save culture, they save a little risk
for those who obey no laws of gravity
outsiders to pain for whom murder will pass
no moral handle to the fl utist;
they fl y only where the executives
would never want to tamper. Where?
The described becomes the prescribed
You have heard it said before.
So while they celebrate themselves
for holy ineffectuality
and seek the freedom of the ostrich
to bury their heads in the sands
let us praise those who will banish poets
from the People’s Republic.
Let us praise them who know
what pagan fire can come
from waterfalls denied the lie of valleys
those who have seen gods crumble to their knees
questioned by simple images
so let us praise those who will track down
folksongs with police dogs
They will not live with poets
in the People’s Republic.
By ODIA OFEIMUN