“In the economy of sound, music is found.”*
In a certain office free of sound,
A professor thinks of crotchets and minims as music.
At the corner, a dusty piano stands in regret
Its keys and pedals as memorabilia for display.
These walls are new graves for Haydn and Beethoven,
Symphonies don’t sound in scores scattered in shelves.
But where is the sound where music shows its face?
These papers don’t sing; humans do. Instruments do too.
Take a walk along the streets where songs don’t hide
Take a walk, my old man, don’t sit and stare at sheets of papers.
The streets are full of strange sobriquets and songs
There’s a tune in every laughter and hot cup of coffee.
The firmness of Audre Lorde’s poetry is music in disguise
Music wields a painter’s brush; spilling colours on verses and pages.
From a mansion in Ikoyi, stereos wail for Wizkid’s Ojuelegba
A broken-hearted lady in London sheds tears for Adele’s Someone Like You.
Drive to the suburbs and witness a wine-tapper at work;
Whistling on palm-trees, the calabash is filled with wine.
Who argues against palm-wine’s penchant for music as whistles?
Wine is music and music is wine; there’s no coda section there.
Somewhere in Ajegunle, blackout is haven for all mosquitoes
Their music is a call for compulsory blood donation.
While the first melody interrupts a kiss in your dream;
The next is a wake activated by a self-slap after a pint is gone.
In London, Asda’s muzak sings to you about ten more goods;
You walk around in search of products that don’t need you.
Come away from your Google search for Bizet’s Carmen opera;
The music is happening live on stage in the city of London.
In Ife, talking drums mention names of men and ancestors;
The Igbo man’s flute fetches money from pockets of potentates.
In Kampala’s suburbs, ululations greet Museveni’s convoy
And djembe drums roll out rhythms for Macky Sall’s Senegal.
In my visions of here-and-now, a huge dog barks in baritone
And I remember a bass singer in my choir of long long years.
What happened to those riff’s from Fela’s years as Kalakuta King?
The prophecy of shuffering and shmiling is Nigeria’s existential reality.
Come away from the turmoil of long Lagos queues and traffic;
Come away from the scarcity of genuine love and laughter.
Spread your arms and hearts to welcome a new form of healing;
Music is in the streets of your city; embrace it now and always.
*F.Note: *—Dami Ajayi.
Echezonachukwu Nduka's poems have been published in A Thousand Voices Rising: An Anthology of Contemporary African Poetry, Black Communion: Poems of 100 New African Poets, The Solace of Nature: An Anthology of International Poetry, From Here to There: A Cross-Cultural Poetry Anthology, and several online literary magazines and journals of repute. Nduka is currently a postgraduate music scholar in Kingston University London, England. He tweets @echenduka