Wrickken - L.S. Mensah

Disinherited of moisture,
Bespoke and befitting
For the dispossessed,
Dear spirit-child-of-sand!

Who was it carved up the world’s winds,
Assigned you to me, as if to inject my parts,
With ampoules of your absent wetness?
Who was it bequeathed you this loom,
To weave a million ballads of dryness?

Some deficiency must bend your needle
Northeast; where, knuckled into the year’s
Headwinds, gargoyles greet your passing.
Great-great-godfather-of-the-sahel, yours,
Is a problem with rickets.

Long ago astrologers of meteorology,
Foretold the coming of a Sand Messiah,
Downwind of the wind gradient,
A desert dervish, come to tap
Dance with the wind.

And for this I waited; watching
The dandruff moult in the sun-brushed
Twigs of women’s braids.
I bore witness, as you, genuflecting,
Ripped humidity from its hinge.

And what did I gain but a squint,
Sat squat on the trig point of my vision?
Still, even devoid of moisture, you carry
Cadences of water in your double helix.
Or dare I say helices? And dare I say,

One day, just like that, at the break
Of the libationer's prayer
Whatever phlegm of water you gorged;
Would rise, to reign, then fall,
As nayabinghi rain:

De dum.
De dum.
De dum.
De dum.
De dum.

So sleep well. You, on your vowelled
Pillows. I too, shall snore well.
A parting note:
If we should meet in the damp dew, you’ll know,
By the way my skin crackles with drought-static.

"Wrickken" is the fifth of our series of poems on the Harmattan. New entries will be posted each week, and collected here.


Prince Mensah said...

LS Mensah, once again, proves to be a force in modern African literature. With language and flowing descriptions, she nails a splendid take on the Harmattan.

'Wrickken' is a hands-on masterpiece, a juicy commentary on a dry wind, a song of wisdom and wit about a time of listlessness.

Please, please submit some poetry to the various calls of anthology by Mensa Press. I would love that!

Anonymous said...

The ponderous choice of words--create a magical,mysterious mood.Blended with timeless existential questions/reflections it gives the poem a heady brew.A poem tangent to Biblical beauty--The Song of Solomen.Silverzorro.


beauty is perfect described by the inks. seasons were best felt in the air yet it's now right on the lips of the poet(ess)' whispers. sure there's hope for the african literature. alles klar! well done L.S

Darko Antwi said...

Another successful series of interesting poems – about a not-so pleasant subject, Harmattan.

Coming from a home with a couple of asthmatic patients, Harmattan has been a dreadful season to witness difficult acts of respiration: constant pant for breath that graduates into rapid wheeze, and onto physical exhaustion. Lord, have mercy.

Through the line-up of verses and commentaries, I have learnt more upon the little I knew to be the health, emotional and economic injuries of Harmattan.

If Harmattan were a mystery, I suppose, each of the 5 poems has done its bit to unravel it. Had I read the opening poem – ‘A Harmattan Matter’ by Prince Mensah – 17 years earlier, I would have understood Harmattan as one of the creations which divinity allows. Most probably, I could have moderated my stance in ‘Harmattan Shall Flee’, a poem I sent to Daily Graphic for publication – in which I demonised the dryness of the season.

By the way, my submission wasn’t published at all. Either Graphic wasn’t publishing poetry in the mid-nineties or my title was amateurish, or my request for remuneration (in the covering letter) went that far to provoke the editor. Whichever was my transgression, I hadn’t the opportunity to know, as I received no reply. Gone are the days!

‘Old dust made new’ is very practical to the atmospheric setting of regions that experience Harmattan. The Canadian Elza Daniela is theatrical. Just like Elza, Mariska Taylor-Darko helps us (readers) acquaint ourselves with the realities of the weather, although she does it through a relaxed demeanour – which almost shifts the matter from sublime to the ridiculous. I can’t see any seriousness in ‘Cracked lips/Not good for a kiss' and the 13 lines that follow. However, I must say that the embedded comedy draws relief to the joy of readers.

As though it was to compensate readers for the previous poem’s lack of sternness, the editor followed-up with Nana Agyemang Ofosu’s sense of urgency in ‘Bleeding Call’. With much concern for the ecological damage of Harmattan, Ofosu prescribes evacuative and redemptive solutions: ‘Tell the heroes and warriors of the west / To come to the east to save my children / Tell the winds to blow up north / To replace the winds of the desert’. Ofosu, the poet with Civil Engineering background, goes on to design a disastrous picture of doom and demolition with some sort of hope in the latter stanza:‘When my coast is cleared of debris’. It sounds very apocalyptic, but no other imagery could be used to illustrate the physical destruction of Harmattan as better than his.

Darko Antwi said...

In ‘Wrikken’, L.S Mensah opens-up some key elements through her relationship with Harmattan. She does so without necessarily being emotional but logical. She doesn’t challenge the presence of Harmattan. She welcomes it as ‘bespoke’ and ‘befitting’. Nevertheless she is much concerned about the authority or origin of that which ‘ripped humanity from its hinge’. Being that anxious, she was very rhetoric in the second stanza.

Upon the 'weave of million ballads of dryness', there is finally a glimpse of hope in the 7th stanza whereby L.S resorts to supernatural intervention in the ‘libationer’s prayer’ to defeat & retrieve whatever the Harmattan has 'gorged' away.

I just like the animation and personification of Harmattan. L.S showed respect even unto the final stage where she contently expects Harmattan to leave the scene: She bids him to 'Sleep well'. Yet she does not cover-up the harm Harmattan has done: She was all too plain to confess in-parting that 'her skin crackles'. So honest!

May I say again that this lady's writings fulfils the purpose of poetry. You'll adore L.S Mensah for her outspoken servitude in criticism, but her poetry would let you go another mile to acknowledge her as one of the vetebrae whose literary imput holds much gravity for Ghanaian literature.

As to whether any of the poems in this series falls-short under Taylor's Yardskick is dependant on each reader. I can say in truth that each of them has fared well.
If they (the poets) haven't achieved anything at all, they have raised enough curiousity for any book they might soon bring to the shelves.


Prince Mensah said...

We need more Darko Antwi - poets who dissect and digest poetry. Our literature needs that. I am very comfortable with Darko's critiques. He does not mince words but does not mix meaning. Hone your art, my brother.

Inasmuch as African poets, dramatists and authors are writing, we need your ilk, Darko. We need people like you to help us do whatever we seek to achieve in this world of words, wisdom, and wit.

Prince Mensah said...

We need more Darko Antwi - poets who dissect and digest poetry. Our literature needs that. I am very comfortable with Darko's critiques. He does not mince words but does not mix meaning. Hone your art, my brother.

Inasmuch as poets, dramatists and authors are writing, we need your ilk, Darko. We need people like you to help us do whatever we seek to achieve in this world of words, wisdom, and wit.

Darko Antwi said...

Thank you so much Prince. I will continue to take clue, lessons and encouragements from elders like you.

May I use this opportunity to ask Elza's pardon for shuffling the correct order of her name. I'm sorry for 'Wrickken' which wasn't spelt right.

With regards to my praise on 'Bleeding Call', I would like to postscript that I bear with readers who may find Ofosu's imagery too alarming. Of course, the elevation of Harmattan into the status of earthquake or huricane can be a stressful alchemy to our the mind's eye.

LS said...

Thanks all for the stardust. Darko Antwi, like Prince said, you're a power house of criticism.

Long ago many Western critics pointed out that most of African poetry concerns itself with politics and nothing else.

Still, others, including the Troika made the point that except for the late great Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo (from Madagascar), African poetry makes no effort to develop a consistent philosophy of nature.

Like I said that was a while ago, and African poetry has come a long way since then, and this topic in many ways illustrate this.

Prince's poem explores tempers and conflicts which may arise during that time of year.

Daniela's is perhaps the most post modern of all, (can I say that?) with its exploration of the gaps between language and punctuation.

Mariska gives us the Aig-Imoukhuede treatment, with, as Darko points out, her simplicity of form and treatment.

Nana Agyemang Osofu's poem is also about gaps, but gaps of a different kind, the kind that steps in to repair the ravages of nature.

Anyway, I'm grateful for having the readership that OGOV offers, even when I apply my shark tooth to the work of others, I'm still tolerated, and not torn apart.