When We Lose Reason - Nana Yaw Sarpong

God does everything, everywhere.
She is at that palm-wine joint
Ensuring the victory of the Stars;
Killing cockroaches at the Pentagon;

Slashing off the legs of a child in Afghanistan;
Receiving praises from a politician
Who only eats beef imported

From Argentina, while the people
Queue for water.

God does everything, everywhere.
Floods stream when her bladder
Can no longer contain the screams from the earth;
Blessing the hungry with
A cedi at the edge of a gutter

At Nima—
And after gaining no pleasure
From the monotonous lives of humans,

She sets a new comic in motion:
Wives catching cheating husbands,
The blind falling in gutters,
Fools winning lotteries.

At the peak of her pleasure's end,

God laughs thunders, hurricanes, earthquakes;
And shifts the tectonic plates
While quoting Laing:
'And what was joy anyway,
But a movement of brain energy.'


Nana Agyemang Ofosu said...

Very original. Good work done.

LS said...


interesting that our problems are caused by God now that she's a woman. I hope I'm not being too harsh but this takes away human agency doesn't it?

As a good Ga I love Armah with the rest of them but I think some of his ideas about Kemet (and this goes for Negritude and Pan Africanism as well)are necessarily vague.

I'm not sure of any accusations we can sling against Chrisitianity and Islam that we couldn't against the various kinds of African Traditional Religion. All of these have brought both joy and hardship to their adherents in their different ways.


Anonymous said...

i love the creativity, the originality and the humor blended with sense of responsibility for our actions and inaction. GOO WORK, MAN.

ImageNations said...

The irony of our situation portrayed by this masterly written piece is clear for all to see. I love the pronoun of God; the 'she'. Its use here is not for the vilification of the venerable woman, but when read carefully, in between the lines, you could see that the writer is rather venerating the woman for as much as we do not blame God for these things, we cannot also blame the woman for our follies.

As to the reference to Kemet and its vagueness proffered by LS, I must say that in as much as African religion has had its downside, there is no written record that it ask its observants to kill another group of people. Well, yet all these are a matter of belief and the inclinations of ones thought. Yet, one cannot doubt the creativity of these. The question this piece again ask is this: 'If all good things are attributed to God, why not the bad ones? For how do we know that the rain that fell and flooded the cityscape, did not water the farmers' field?' Hence if the cityers claim it is a curse from the devil and the farmers claim it is a blessing from God, how should we understand this. That a singular event could be from two horinzontally opposing individuals.

Darko Antwi said...

An Oscar Wilde statement I read from ‘The illustrated Poets’, edited by Daniel Burnstone, has this time made me thoughtful of how to guard my criticisms. The sheer idiomatic brilliance of 'When We Lose Reason' has, as much, made me reflect on some comments I have pelted on some OGOV titles in the past. In my reflection, I became afraid if I have, by any degree, affronted or discouraged the creativity of any poet.

Upon my discovery of the Oscar Wilde statement, and largely based on my will to forever witness the liberalism of Ghanaian poetry, I would ask that readers should have another look, if they will, at the discussion I had with Rob Taylor and Prince Mensah - on Anin-Agyei's 'The Victory of Okyeman'- and level it with the quotation below page. In my own review, I realised that some parts of my argument were compellingly tendered, and are therefore more of a dictation on how and what a writer should write, rather than an opinion. At least I wasn’t personal against Prince Anin-Agyei. And I thank God that we haven’t, and will never reach the doorstep of a heated criticism whereby two English poets exchanged insults: one of the poets involved swore, ‘You are half witty, half fool’. The other replied with something worst I couldn’t put to memory.

With my many errors of judgement at stake, may I be forgiven if anyone found me to be intimidating rather than a secondary school certificate holder with little knowledge in literary criticism. If the latter describes me, it will be to my satisfaction – since I see myself, principally, as a student of this magazine, ever humble to learn.

Now I leave you with Wilde’s view on the integrity of poetry; which, I think, has some sort of implication on Rob Taylor’s probe / concerns on the separability and inseparability of the poet from the voice of the poem:

“A poem is well written or badly written. In art, there should be no reference to a standard of good or evil. The presence of such a reference implies incompleteness of vision. The Greeks understood this principle, and with perfect serenity enjoyed works of art that, I suppose, some of my critics would never allow their families to look at. The enjoyment of poetry does not come from the subject, but from the language and rhythm. Art must be loved for its own sake, and not to be criticised by a standard of morality.”

Martin Egblewogbe said...

Great piece Obed. And nice touch at the end, with God quoting Kojo Laing. Time was, man used to quote God.

Maxine said...

Wow, this is absolutely wonderful. The first line feels like a lead-in to fundamentalist rhetoric, then the rest of the poem completely turns us on our head. Interesting comment by LS though - I hadn't considered that. Glad to have discovered your blog!

LS said...

My critique of the above poem takes nothing away from it. I certainly did not call it a bad poem. Even 'masterly written' poems and collections can be critiqued, otherwise we won't have literary critics and the industry that supports them. Not that I'm one, but that is neither here nor there. For all its brilliance, one cannot get away from the fact that the character Lawino in p'Bitek's Song of Lawino is satisfied with her place in African society, as a second class person! Good if you're a man, not so good if you're a woman.

I admit I may be guilty of reading the above poem differently from what the writer intended. I admit I may have overlooked satire, irony and everything else the writer intended, reader-response criticism and reader-oriented criticism can explain that. But I also believe implying I may not have read 'carefully between the lines' is rather patronising.

I see no veneration of the venerable woman here, but that is the way I choose to read it. We don't all have to have to the same point of view, otherwise we come out with what can only be regarded as a herd mentality.


Kwadwo Oteng Owusu said...

I guess the poems speaks to all us...Good use of irony and imagery..

"Killing cockroaches in the Pentagon"..very intuitive..!! Cheers!!

Nana said...

Thank you all for the comments. I really enjoyed coming back to read them.

Efo Dela said...

I love every word!

very colorful and very deep.
i especially love that writer portrays God as a woman. Only a woman's tolerance can explain how God is patient with all the nonsense going on down here