poems by John Chinaka Onyeche

The Sunflower In My Father’s Garden As A Metaphor For The Return Of Our Ancestors.


A Sunflower had sprouted out in my father’s garden in the morning, I showed it to him in the evening while we had walked through the garden. And my father told me that, it was a way of our ancestors returning, those who had died in the years past without a trace of them with humans. They return as flowers from their long time journey into the spirit land that we should now care for them. And when I showed it to my mother, she said that “it is a gift from nature” and admonished that I should care for the little sunflower in our garden. But when I came back to look at it again to know where it was coming from, I was bemused how it faded away from the spot where it stood like the Sun in the firmament. Then when I returned home from the garden, the news was broken to me that my father had walked away from home to where no trace of him is possible and that my mother had wailed rivers as tears and that she had paddled through it as her wooden canoe into the world of oblivion and each day of my remembrance them, I walk through the garden searching for a sunflower, maybe my father might have returned through it or my mother will become like nature in the garden and my father as the sunflower and now as my ancestor.

My Father And The Last Train.

When the last caravan left the terminal last night, it echoed miseries as I was awoken from my many slumbers of that which I had once called family life. And in this poem, my father was a hunter and he hunted down good games. And my mother, a farmer who gave birth to a Daughter who mends fabrics and never tried to mend anyone’s, broken heart. A Son who writes poetry and plants trees from where he writes on dead trees. And a nephew, one who kneels before the Sacrament, an image of a man with a cross and recites the prayer beads around his neck every morning whispering; amen and amen as a ritual for the family. No doubt, this was the setting of our home in the middle of the train station where every travelling traveller travels through; dead or alive the station, the hands that bear the legs on which the gruelling wheels kneels to say their last prayers on never-ending, going to bed as it cries all night and day alike. For last night, my father’s hands had hovered around the last train at the station which was heading to the new wood-world where only the dead trees live to retell(s) of life’s last memories in this world. I mean, where only in the body of dead woods are memories written by a poet and his Son one amongst them who writes poetry on dead trees of times and memories of men on this world writes about his father and the last train heading to the new wood-world of no returns.

7 Pebbles At The River Bank.


I have learned to mourn my dead(s)

with three pebbles pick up at the shore

& another four to be thrown out as a rite

in each of the morning that I had woken

from my bed of piled-up memories of old.

I run through the memory lanes down

to the river from where we had once run

through its way and submerged our bodies

into its coolness as a way to renew our souls.

But now, the river has run dried & stall

& as at its banks, I stood like an oak tree

leaf dripping waters to wet the river again

with my thousand tears as I mourn them – my dead(s)

emptiness echoes within me as I wailed

for our long visit to the river & here

its waters knew that I had come to mourn

my dead ones here who had evaporated

at the wake of the Sunset.

To each of these four pebbles that I had picked,

I threw each of the pebbles to the four corners

of the world: east, west, north & south,

for who knows which way to which way that

all my dead ones went through at their death,

this is how I had learned to mourn my dead ones.




Don’t let me go.

There was a little light that pierced through the broken part of my windowpane last night. I was left in a hole within myself, emotions cascading as the rays of the light danced in my eyes. I plunged my ears to the swiftly playing songs on my phone and I turned on “Asa’s songs”, I  played it on the repeat through the stereo system in the seating room as an output to enjoy its good tones and lyrics. I followed the lyrics one word at a time when the shadows of you walked into the bedroom of my memory from the window and I am mesmerised by the feeling that your memories had awakened me into. Could it be love at first sight or the true love that I had once prayed for after the love accidents that have occurred on this journey through life? I am yet to fathom this feeling that Don’t let me go awakens within my being each time I played the song. My love, my lost love in the shadow of true love. Each of the words in this song reminds me of who we used to be before our voyage was shipwrecked in the middle of the sea of love and emotion where to live becomes like a thorn in the flesh. I have run to the hills and listened to every one of our voice notes promising the world to each other, oh, please don’t let me go. Like an eagle on the flight to the peak, I stood against the windowpane and looked into the future what our lives would have been like even as the reality within us now echoed from where it all got wrong on this journey of love. I pondered as the music keeps reminding me of your choice on this page of love scripts as we have chosen to write separation and enemies at the end.

poems by John Chinaka Onyeche

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