Poem by Nouck Protus B.

Bearded Business (To a Fallen Friend: Mbella Sonne Dipoko)

His voice would baritone
From the pit of his flattened belly;
Boon of frugal diets,
Of cold chicken, and beef soya;
Of grains and leaven, now,
And then, a drop or two of Bacchus’ thing;
By the strain of sanjas
And endless trekking escapades.

He stared from out those drowsy sockets,
That could spring into glowing balls,
Lighted up that be-haired portrait;
Issued that fiery penetration
That belied those fangled locks
And a vision longer than that greying beard…

Weather-beaten, two-winged slippers;
Walked the streets and bushes of Missaka, Keka…
Flirted with palms and mangrove on Mongo’s banks;
Cracked a joke or two about his very self,
Often, in not-so-puritan expressions;
Yet he would walk with the gods,
And muse unending odes to the mermaids.

A forlorn figure of philosophy,
Of fabulous dreams and modest means;
Of idealist cravings in the midst of frailty,
Yet, not blind to a flash of passing passions;
A lonely socialist crusader
Who would flatten the Buea Mountain
Or drain the waters of the Atlantic,
With rousing sermons of a shared destiny
And ranting about a common good,
That all fell on the thorns of the times;
Times of graft, and posh designs.

He would that we were his willing pupils,
Chanced to row in a common boat:
Thanks to the crooked journey of party games,
Where leopards and tigers were dogs,
And dogs played leopards and tigers;
Also bonded, by pursuits of verbal craft,
The illusions that a few fine lines written
Would shaken the buffoons and plunderers
Holding hostage that hackneyed New Deal.

And it mattered not, if we strayed from his stride…
In search of rule for our ruling streak….
Raving and craving for rare one-gun slogans
That would blow the mind and fill the boxes;
We the kettle, the pot and the frying-pan;
Oblivious of that existentialist grip
Strangling any ennobling design
That would rear its noose
Above the mind-games and trade in conscience.

For ever with that worn-out shoulder-bag
And those piles of shredding pages,
On which to save up his abstractions
And the wanderings of his eyes and ears;
His life was the world,
His ups and downs his moral code;
And all that bustled around him,
Were only verses in one unending poem
That he continues to write even today,
Inspired from the very starting
And to the fathomless pit of eternity,
By the trappings of EssimoYaMboka.

Had he had a few more nights and days,
If only because of the women he courted
And rarely worth to be committed;
If he had the extra one moment now,
To rise again with the sun of dawn
And slumber upon the darkening dusk,
It could lighten upon him, at last,
That even though black may turn white
Even though white may pass for black,
That, day and night would be foes;
And that black and white
Would never be in love.


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