Returnee: By Romeo Oriogun

There is music in the soul of a travelling man,

there is hope in the fish struggling on a hook,

and one year later, the sky is still blue,

the clouds are still ordered according to the breath

of a celestial being, but if you look closely

they divide like the chaos of a battlefield.

The road, choked with cars, resembles 

from above two bloated snakes on water 

and here, as in all cities, you could purchase death 

if you know where to look.

I have been away from home,

I have become one of those annoying emigrants

who return to dirty December, finding our way 

to parties, singing the goodness of newly found wealth

fashioned from the wild darkness of winter, 

from the loneliness of apartment buildings.

Outside, the smell of this city greets me.

For here, we no dey fear anybody, says the driver.

                                    I have nothing to fear,

although out of water the slum of Makoko rises,

and between the houses on stilts, children paddle

canoes to school while photographers are busy at work, 

capturing for European galleries 

this place they had christened the poor Venice of Africa. 

The evening sun shepherds the sky, passengers in danfos

argue about politics, Big Brother, the life

of some celebrity. It is beautiful here, this place

with all its sorrow. I tremble. I do not know 

how to hate this country, I do not know 

how to run away from the joy and frustration 

of every season.

                            And still, the world moves on,

and still, a woman stands beside my window, 

offering me plantain chips, brother,

buy this one, I promise you, e sweet like paradise.