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Uche Nduka; Counterfactual
Uche Nduka is appropriately considered one of the leading voices among the younger Nigerian poets. An early collection, Flower Child (1988), set the anguished confessional tone by which experience is sublimated and recalled in this poet. His poetry has served the iconic role of helping to mark aesthetic divergences in the work of Nigerian poets writing from the late twentieth century. Other work by Uche Nduka include Second Act (1994), The Bremen Poems (1995), Chiaroscuro (1997), Belltime Letters (2000) and If Only the Night (2002). He lives in Bremen , Germany , and is a past winner of an Association of Nigerian Authors Prize for Poetry. His work has been translated into German and Dutch.

In Counterfactual, the line 'you may prostrate before those vengeful elders, but don't do it on my mat' encapsules the strain of self-confidence that seams not just this poem but this poet. Access is the mood of this poem and the lines make you want to chant, but it is over too soon; and because the clues don't give too much away, we are left 'fishing for insights' under Uche's green words...


at the Soul's Sulphur Springs,i took photographs.when i went into a darkroom to develop them,the negatives went into a coma and never woke up.say something.break out.break out from twisting your grunts around a bus stop.i throw way salute no die,man no may prostrate before those vengeful elders but don't do it on my mat.not even between clauses and golden may be a cut above your aimless is hard to tell whether you deserve a bigger stage or a claim you can rout a hormonal claim you can swallow a flood.indeed you may.along the way,it is likely you will give birth to a bamboo.not to mention your plan for buttering up your neighbour--the thirtysomething snob,the humourless householder.your counterfactual expeditions come in instalments.don't they?a life dribbling past a dream is not all we can see.a guitar wearing a night gown in a house of orange is not all we can spotlight.your heroes don't want to stay carved in bronze.your recipes for higher social consciousness don't want to stay written on lined pages.blindfolds,foot-locks,manacles:did they disappear within the boundaries of a glorified State?you wrote a book of rebuke for the country of your pains.remember?don't knock your blessings.count them.i am cooking for you and i will take you to the cinema afterwards. it's time to re-model me and you are the one chosen to do it.the one to massage my mind back to a bootylicious elation.your dogs are still attacking my ankles and am still arguing for a threatened Republic.a crotch full of may train your slingshot on a short but stained silence.a wild it a put-on or are you as mercurial as the sidewalk coos?your slow graph rises;you fish for insights hiding under green stones.

© Uche Nduka

...the negatives went into a coma
and never woke up.

Click to continue to Pius Adesanmi's Rise, Son, Rise      
©2006 Chuma Nwokolo, Jr.