Tuesday, July 28, 2009

ogun (40)

african tankas

into the forest
fled a despairing ògún
his heart, cold iron.
civilization’s owner
did forsake his blacksmith fires.

ògún oni’re,
the fallow fields begged, implored,
without yr spirit
nothing grows or thrives or lives—
only death makes feast; enjoys.

return to yr fires
onile kangun-dangun,
the overgrown paths
cried out to him, beseeched him.
we need u to clear the way.

without u eşu
cannot open brand new paths;
òşóòsi cannot
find the shortest, straightest route,
come out of the forest, please!

deaf to their begging
the fields could not persuade him
deaf to their pleading
the paths could not convince him.
he was through with human kind.

man had soiled his gifts;
& had turned his face from life.
soaked his tools in blood;
worshipped death & oppression.
ògún could not forgive him.

into the forest
ọşun came, unbidden &
unsent. her yellow
scarves aflutter, her honey
dripping down her fleshy thighs.

the river’s spirit
danced her sweet seductive dance
her sweet heady smell
did what fallow fields could not,
what the paths & trails could not.

she enticed ògún
spread her honey on his chin
made him follow her
out of the sacred forest,
back into the world of man.

ògún ni jo ti
ma lana lati ode
(spirit of iron
dances outside to open
the road); & opens the road.

© Joseph McNair; 2009


  1. Yes, Ntate Joe. You have done it! You have brought the myth to life & it lives through yr poem and you.
    Truly an accomplishment.