Barrister (Mrs.) Florence Onyebuchi Orabuezehails
from Uruagu, Nnewi North Local Government Area of Anambra State-Nigeria. In 1973, she began her primary education at UruaguCentralSchool, Uruagu, Nnewi. From 1979-1984, she got admission into the University of Nigeria, Nsukka to study English. In 1989, she was a Youth Corp
member at College of Immaculate
Conception, Enugu.In 1991, she had her M.A. (E.S.L) degree from U.N.N. From 1993 to 1998,
she studied Law at University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus. She was called to the
Nigerian Bar in October 2000. At present, she is a lecturer in the Department of English, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. She is married with children.
VULTURES AND HAWKS
In all nooks and crannies of mother Africa,
The vultures and the hawks perch
On her fruit-bearing trees,
Today, the melodious sound of the vultures pervades
“We have come to save the other oppressed
Birds from the fangs and claws of the hawks,”
The self-acclaimed messiahs declare.
Tomorrow, before the martial dance
Of the vultures dies down,
The hawks have rolled out their jumbo tom toms,
To celebrate the dawn of a new era.
“Now, the birds can reap the democracy dividends,
They can fly around unmolested,
Not preys for other predators,” the saviours proclaim.
But whether the vultures ascend the throne,
Or whether the hawks wear the mantle,
Both are Siamese-twins.
They have unmistakable appetites,
The unimaginable vices of lying, looting, whoring, wining, dining, card-playing and
The gentle birds for decades keep on waiting,
With shriveled, drawn pale faces,
Stomach rumpling like the clap of thunder,
Tattered, faded feathers hanging
On shrunken, wasted wings,
Their sunken eyes too weak to see,
Their patched, dry throats too weak to sing.
Their feeble songs only a croak,
As the vultures and hawks
Dancing to the drum played by their pipers,
Match with their mock shiny boots
And equally, heavily starched Agbadas
To indulge in their favorite pastime.
Their notorious craving for
Filling yawning foreign graves
With booties from the bowels of mother Africa.
Her famished innocentchicks,
Turn their bile inwards,
In anger to the unfulfilled promises of the predators,
With their long unkempt-beaks and claws,
They plunder and slaughter one another,
In carnivorous hovering, over the blood-soaked land.
THE BEAST OF BURDEN
In the modern household
Lives the beast of burden.
Her sweat turns the floor into a mirror.
Her toil cleans the pots and pans,
Everyday the camel sweeps and mops,
Yet her meals are few and scanty.
The horse is seen but never to bray,
Her coat of many colours hung on her gaunt body,
Green and yellow here, black and brown there,
Her hooves are bare with neither shoes nor ornaments.
The family donkey needs no formal training,
She perpetually stays at home to toil and
soil orShe goes out hawking from dawn to dusk.
The camel has neither rest nor resources,
Yet in seasons, the good Lord provides both for her.
MY NEW CAR
My beautiful tokunbo car,
My gleaming Belgium car,
The symbol of my power and affluence,
A credit to science and technology,
A testimony of modern man’s conquest of nature.
Wearing dark goggles in already tinted glasses,
And sound reverberating in the compact machine,
Like the sound of volcano or earthquake,
I march with shoes glittering
Like a mirror before the fiercest sun
My first day on road
In the luring speed devil.
Every car on the road a target
The mortuary temperature inside, a sweet decoy,
Inviting me, beckoning me like a shy mistress.
A burst tyre on a jagged road,
My new car flies into the air,
Tumbling down and crashing into a tree,
A heap of ugly, gaping china plates.
The mangled wrecks, the blood-oozing carcass,
Witnesses to man’s destruction by man’s handiwork.
THE BIRTH OF A CRIPPLE
The anxious midwives lost many nights of sleep
To force the precious baby out of its reluctant mother
At , they heard the wail of the baby,
“We have made it,” they chorused joyfully.
The mother sat up from her subdued position,
She took a look at the baby,
She saw no resemblance of her in it,
“A monster had been forced out of me,” she thought.
She took to her heels to a safe distance,
Where she espies the struggle of the abnormal
Being and the midwives.
In the glare of the morning sun,
The jubilant saviours inspected the baby
“Look, she is deformed,” one of them said.
“What do you mean?” the others hissed.
“The legs are tiny, they cannot support the
massive body” she said lamely.
“Superstition, unfounded comment,” they said.
Laughing, heaving sighs of relief,
But their troubled eyes roam on the infant,
Lying docilely in its beautiful couch.
Many, many years rolled by, the midwives waited,
Their reddish dulled eyes could not see
Any sign of life in the feeble heap on the bed,
Onlyheavy breaths like a woman in labour
Escapes from the prostrate shriveled thing.
“What’s that?” One of them asked, pointing to her stomach.
“Don’t you have eyes? It is protruding”,
they answered in annoyance.
They applied every medication on her,
But her sickness defies their knowledge.
Many years rolled into decades
Their planned dream for the baby’s birthday,
To be celebrated with much pomp and pageantry,
The imagined sound of drums and trumpets,
The mouth-watering, sumptuous meals and expensive wine
They heard and saw in the very remote, fizzled past.
At last the midwives brought in a doctor,
With his beautifully manicured hands,
He placed a stethoscope on the bed-ridden adult’s chest,
He listened to her irregular heartbeat,
He squeezed the terrible swollen stomach,
A horrible howl escaped the sick woman’s mouth,
“Any hope?” They asked the doctor.
He surveyed their ashen stressed faces.
“None, except if there is a miracle
She has a fundamental defect from birth,
Her stick-like legs cannot carry her massive bulk,
Now her swollen stomach is infested with worms,
Leeches and jiggers are friends to her skin,” he said
Unemotionally, leaving the stinking sick room.
They looked at one another and shook their heads,
“We have all greyed,” one of them said.
“Decades have been spent nursing this wreck,
Her age mates are married with families,
Here she lies like an empty sack,
a teething baby, mocking our sweat.”
THE CITY’S DIVIDE
All holy books teach that God created men equally,
All religions count men equal before the Almighty.
Every myth about creation proclaims their equality
before the Supreme Being.
Every priest announces that all men are one before the Creator
But all around me in the city I see a great divide,
Men erect mountains and hills to separate them from their fellow men
Theyconstruct chasms and gullies to
widen the gap between them and their brothers
Men build slums for the damned and wretched of the earth,
And the reservation area for the high and mighty.
The city slum with its sprawling shanties
Built hastily with gaping corrugated sheets on sticks,
A penned window to let in nature’s elements.
The slum labyrinth with smudge blackish smelly water,
A bounteous breeder for various vermin.
The ghettos’ wasteland fosters pot-bellied scarecrows,
That dip themselves in the sooty water.
A little distance from the floor lays the city’s paradise
The houses built with cement and aluminum roofs
With its maze of tarred roads admitting posh cars,
And plump pleasant-looking puppies picking flowers
from beautifully trimmed gardens.
The sweat from the rats on the other side of the divide
Maintain the pruned vegetation in the paradise,
Their sinews break to keep its gleaming pots and pans.
In the dark, the beasts of burden file back
From the airy haven to their airless holes
With barely enough to keep body and soul together.
For another endless, back-breaking day of soil and toil.
At the city’s lush and luxurious paradise.
The mighty of the city steal the low blind
To maintain the chasm and the mountain between them.
The continued and continuing degradation of the weak by the strong
Is an aspersion on the Maker that moulded the two.
OH DEAR, MOURN THE LIVING DEAD
The messengers of death buried deep down
The bowels of mother earth for war,
In time of peace spit out
Tongues of fire and deafening din
Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta!
Dum! Dum! Dum! Dum! Dum! Dum! Dum!
The bombs vomit horrible noises
Like a volcanic eruption.
Houses miles away shook from their foundations
Window louvers splintered from their firm frames
Panic, pandemonium, people running helter-skelter
Mothers abandoned their sucking infants,
Fathers flew from the flying flames,
And toddlers and adults jostle to safety.
The horrible flame from hell howled for hours
Men, women and children trooped out into the streets.
“Is it a war or the usual coup d’etat? “They queried
The fearful souls prayed to God in different tongues
To quench His wrath,
As they remembered their sins of avarice:
God responded to their fervent prayers,
The sickening sound stopped as it started
Silence from the graveyard descended on the city,
They thanked the Saviour for saving
Their souls from such a sorrowful destruction.
In the light of the morning they milled
Back to what used to be their homes.
The cruel, shooting fingers of flame
Had stolen all they had,
And its terrifying tongue had licked
Their once beautiful buildings and bungalows.
And colour its leftover with crazy coal.
The survivors cried, wept, wailed and moaned.
But their terrible tale is yet to come
For thousands of dead bodies floated on the creeks,
The sooty canals, death-traps to unwary victims.
Desperate divers battle to fish out
Corpses from the nets of the poisonous pool,
Naked little children trapped in the blackish pond
Lay sprawled on the sooty soil
Their bellies popped upwards
Like poisoned fishes out of the fiery sea.
The little ones never to love and be loved again
The young babes never to open their eyes again
The sweet angels never to play on sandy soil again
The innocent darlings never to be cuddled by their mothers again
Life, violently snuffed out from them
By men’s modern maniacal machines.
Those they left behind neither miss nor mourn them,
Their only sign of sorrow was hoisting the flag at half-mast,