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BABY, LISTEN


A compilation of poems and short stories


Anthonio Clever

BABY, LISTEN

©Copyright 2018 Anthonio Clever

ISBN: 978-1-911014-89-8



All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical photocopy, recording, or any other means except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the permission in writing from the author and publisher



Published by LamLam Bookish

Tel: +234 (0) 7054963639


Design by Reverum Studios

Tel: +234 (0) 806 003 4048


Edited by Bolu Asala

Tel: +234 (0) 7038425352


For all enquiries, please contact


Anthonio Clever

anthonioclever@gmail.com

Tel: +234 (0) 816 012 5544


For a generation to come much later

And,

To a beloved with open ears ready to listen


Special thanks to God, Family

And You



This book is designed to take you through twenty and one days of poetry and short stories.


A young man’s attempt to pass on tales from father to beloved.


Daylight, Sunlight, Streetlight, Moonlight and Spotlight are instruments of distinction between the types of light each piece sheds


So you should know, you would find fear in spotlight.


I hope you see the light


(Please note, all works are fictitious)

Contents


a.NO WORD Daylight 2

b.THIRD MAINLAND DREAMS Sunlight 3

c.TWOS Streetlight 5

d.HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER Moonlight 7

e.BABY, LISTEN Spotlight 10

f.GRATEFUL Daylight 13

g.OUR VILLAGE PEOPLE Sunlight 15

h.OH MY GOD, WHO ARE YOU? Streetlight 17

i.DOWN TO MY KNEES Moonlight 20

j.PERFECT CUPCAKE Spotlight 22

k.BABY LISTEN OR NOT Daylight 25

l.PAINS, PENS OF A SIX YEAR OLD Sunlight 27

m.STICK SWEET Streetlight 30

n.OLOLUFE-NO PEACE Moonlight 32

o.ONCE BROKEN, NO TWICE Spotlight 34

p.JUST ANOTHER FATHER Daylight 38

q.SEND YOUR CV Sunlight 40

r.WALL PICTURES Streetlight 43

s.OLOLUFE-THE VISIT Moonlight 45

t.SUPER MAN Spotlight 47

u.OUR VERY OWN DAUGHTER Daylight 51

v.FINGERPRINTS IN SKIN Sunlight 52

w.EXPENSIVE Streetlight 53

x.WANT YOU MORE Moonlight 55

y.TIME Spotlight 57

z.I AM A FEMINIST Daylight 60

aa.DEAR OCTOBER Sunlight 62

bb.AFRICA Streetlight 64

cc.BENEATH YOUR CHEST Moonlight 66

dd.EASE Spotlight 68

ee.ABOUT LAST NIGHT Daylight 70

ff.HOW TO BE A YORUBA DEMON Sunlight 71

gg.FINDING X Streetlight 73

hh.COME SOON Moonlight 75

ii.IN MEMORY OF SHIPS SAILED Spotlight 76

jj.A FORCE TO RECKON WITH Daylight 80

kk.RESPONSES Sunlight 82

ll.OH MY GOD, WHO ARE YOU TOO Streetlight 84

mm.HERO Moonlight 87

nn.NEW YEAR’S EVE Spotlight 89

oo.LIGHT REMAINS Daylight 92

pp.SOLD OFF Sunlight 94

qq.HEAD Streetlight 96

rr.OLOLUFE-THE RANT Moonlight 98

ss.BROKEN CLAY POT Spotlight 100

tt.RIB Daylight 103

uu.FRIDAY NIGHTS Sunlight 105

vv.VANITY SHOW Streetlight 106

ww.CALVARY Moonlight 108

xx.CRASHES Spotlight 110

yy.SIDE STORY DEMOLA 113

zz.SIDE STORY DEDOTUN 115

aaa.SIDE STORY FUNKE 117

bbb.SIDE STORY ADAOBI 119

ccc.SIDE STORY IBUKUN 122

ddd.GUILT Daylight 126

eee.TORTOISE STORY Sunlight 128

fff.A BETTER LIFE Streetlight 130

ggg.THE BEAUTIFUL POEM Moonlight 132

hhh.THE RAPIST Spotlight 134

iii.I VOW HEART Daylight 137

jjj.BROKEN SOULS Sunlight 138

kkk.WAKE UP Streetlight 140

lll.OLOLUFE-DAWNING Moonlight 142

mmm.BARELY SEVENTEEN Spotlight 144

nnn.OLD MIRROR Daylight 148

ooo.AGE IS NOT JUST A NUMBER Sunlight 150

ppp.DEMONS AND BEAST Streetlight 152

qqq.OLOLUFE-BUNNY Moonlight 155

rrr.FIGHT, FEARS OF A SIX YEAR OLD Spotlight 157

sss.I VOW US Daylight 160

ttt.HARMATTAN Sunlight 161

uuu.UNSOCIAL MEDIA Streetlight 163

vvv.LONGEST WORDS Moonlight 166

www.DEPRESSION Spotlight 167

xxx.TRUE LOVE Daylight 170

yyy.FROM THE CELL Sunlight 172

zzz.NAMES AND NAG Streetlight 174

aaaa.GOOD NIGHT Moonlight 176

bbbb.BASTARD’S PRAYER Spotlight 178

cccc.YOU ARE A WOMAN Daylight 181

dddd.THE LATE Sunlight 182

eeee.OH MY GOD, WHO ARE …? Streetlight 184

ffff.STRANGER’S EYES Moonlight 187

gggg.LANTERN BURNING Spotlight 189

hhhh.HEAVENLY Daylight 192

iiii.TIPSY Sunlight 194

jjjj.MAIDS IN HARMATTAN Streetlight 196

kkkk.MY WORLD Moonlight 198

llll.CRASHES- THE SEQUEL Spotlight 200

mmmm.A MAN Daylight 203

nnnn.AUNTY KEJI Sunlight 204

oooo.UBER Streetlight 206

pppp.OLOLUFE-AFTERMATH Moonlight 207

qqqq.IN MEMORY OF SHIPS SAILED II Spotlight 209

rrrr.WORK HARD Daylight 213

ssss.BLACK Sunlight 215

tttt.ROTIMI Streetlight 218

uuuu.THE TIME WE HAVE LEFT Moonlight 220

vvvv.IN THE FUTURE Spotlight 222

wwww.SOLDIER Daylight 225

xxxx.DON’T TELL MAMA Sunlight 227

yyyy.NEW YEAR’S DAY Streetlight 229

zzzz.ALONE Moonlight 231

aaaaa.FINAL. PEEPPING Spotlight 233

Glossary 235



October 8, 2017


Trying to slice through Baby’s undivided attention

I would need higher powers

Some emotions

A little bit of history

And a tale about lovers just the way she would like it

Maybe then we can have our first session

Here I go

Baby, listen…”



    1. NO WORD Daylight


I apologise for the obvious lack of words

Since alphabets can’t dance together beautifully enough


Words can’t announce you

Lips can’t pronounce your greatness

No qualifier is an adjective to your glory

Action and doing words are not verbal enough

So even if I add verbs, more still doesn’t add value

So dear conjunction, what is your function?

Every preposition made hasn’t done justice

And this is failure interjected!


Dear God,

I apologise on behalf of lexis and structure

Since the pool of words in my ocean of understanding couldn’t ship back all the glory


    1. THIRD MAINLAND DREAMS Sunlight


The sun cast its bright lights on the long bridge

Ambulances and their sirens became the soundtrack of that noon

With Car horns and loud stereos blasting feisty nonchalant noise

A sour sight laid, lifeless bodies casting a familiar shadow

It was the third of May on the third mainland

Fire grazed three vehicles headed for the industrious island

The third had a girl I knew pretty well

She was just like me

Young, with hopes and dreams

All dashed that moment on the third mainland bridge

As the cars raced past, many more dreams passed

And then her racing heart pumped its last

As air and smoke filled up her lungs

At that point, no one could have asked

She lived a life full of stories

They died in her head, carted away in an ambulance

Flanked by uniform men, who guarded sleeping dreams

She wanted to write her own book one day

I wrote a book, and started with her story

On the third mainland lies racing and dead dreams

And then there’s me and you across the bridge

Awake, Living the dream!


    1. TWOS Streetlight


We spent two nights at the clinic waiting for you to own your breath


Mother was gradually getting over the soreness between two thighs waiting for you to say “thank you”


Granny kept a smile on even with just two teeth dancing to the rhythm of your heartbeat


Every passing moment, my heart raced down on my two knees, praying I have enough to make your world lit


"The food at the naming must have at least two meat", I heard your uncle scream


And for once in all of our worlds, words became too cheap to put our feelings to sleep


The truth is, the house only became a home when you stepped in with your two tiny feet

    1. HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER Moonlight


I did not meet your mother one sunny Sunday afternoon at the shopping mall, Not when she bent to pick a nylon laying harmlessly, Nigerian style, right on the floor next to the dustbin. After I picked my spot and took a shot, it turned out she missed the bin while attempting free throws with pure water nylons with her cousin one sunny Sunday afternoon at the crowded shopping mall. 


I did not meet your mother the following sunny Sunday afternoon at the shopping mall when we both agreed to do same place, same style but without the cousin. Of course, in life, you hear about how you'll meet someone that totally complements you, this wasn't the case, the girl sitting right in front of me with the tiny ice cream spoon the other way round in her mouth on a sunny Sunday afternoon was the opposite.


I did not meet your mother when it began to feel like we thought alike, when sunny Sunday afternoons stopped showing up and we talked all night, she would sleep off on the phone and blame me for hanging up, she was my baby, she was my grown toddler, and I was the complete opposite of everything she ever dreamt about in a man, so it was always easy for her to fall asleep since that was a step closer to her dreams.


I did not meet your mother when love was getting casual compliments on a sunny Sunday afternoon when she chose to do “no make-up”, that day I figured she had wicked intentions as she looked like she could slay queens, I don't remember the compliments I paid, and I remember she rolled her eyes every time I tried. The trance life showed me pictured her in a white gown and a stranger told me suits suit me.


We were not casual, we were in love, and we got serious, and risked all of the hurt, we had many sunnier Sunday afternoons like the one after the wedding where we talked about raising a child yet I had not met your mother.


Luckily, one sunny Sunday afternoon, I met your mother, it was after hours of labour, the doctors wouldn't let me in so I cried for hours to my saviour, when I eventually met your mother, the sun had gone down, I'm not sure it was still Sunday afternoon, but she looked more beautiful than my dreams could ever picture and I grew fears of how I would share the same special woman with you, my daughter

    1. BABY, LISTEN Spotlight


Listen Baby,

We live in a noisy world that could drown away our voices

Man wants to live, a choice to more than survive that takes away our choices

So when lemons come, we have been taught to prune down our losses

Will ends one day meet, if wishes were horses?


It's easy to get lost in a world long forgotten

It's even harder to be found, like good ratings when the tomato's rotten

So the more I spoke, the more the truth got in

That you remain the most important to me in this world we all rot in


So I penned down stories

From the gods

From my own father

From things that are scared to speak

Wrote them down in words I'm scared to read

I wrote their stories

I hope you read and then, listen


October 9, 2017


And how dare I not give thanks for last night?

In between the lessons of responsibilities and the reminder that karma might be alive, today, we truly begin the trip


Baby,

Stay with me

Everyone wants a perfect cupcake but this world isn’t exactly a bed of roses laid just for you”


    1. GRATEFUL Daylight


Can tablets lay drainage for my runny nose?

And warm water be sweet taste to my sour throat

Can the thick clothes shoulder the heaviness in my chest?

And painkillers lay my head’s ache to rest


Would manna rain down from above once again?

And feed the hungry in the society and still have remains

Would our leaders ever stop being selfish?

And start governing less with their bellies and more with their number six


Could love one day find me perfect enough?

And make the place I call home her own abode

Could the skies fold up its’ sheets?

And rain blessings upon me every new week


There are many uncertainties

Begat by our several wondering questions

We are quick to forget that life in itself is an opportunity

And every passing breath filled with unanswered questions was a chance to be grateful


    1. OUR VILLAGE PEOPLE Sunlight


This was how it all started

Tade broke a plate

Hauwa put too much salt in the food

Emeka hit the bar in the community finals

Willy-Willy shook the white man’s hand

Against the community’s wish

They were all kids

So they said it was the devil

Even though it took a while

Some lashes and hate, we let them go


Now

Tade broke the heart of his long-time lover

Hauwa put too much colour in the presentation to the foreign investors

Emeka hit the bar and left with a black eye and police handcuffs

Willy-willy shook more hands with notes in them

And sold the community’s future for a piece of meat

This time, they aren’t kids

So they said it was their village people

It didn’t take a while since we made the excuses for them

We are our own village people

We are their own nemesis

    1. OH MY GOD, WHO ARE YOU? Streetlight


He stood up at once, and crashed into the only chair in his room, the moaning and screaming replayed in his head as he settled for what would be the last paragraph to the current chapter of his book. She sat up on the soft mattress, slowly gaining energy in her legs and yawning for the need of sleep, she looked at him with eyes longing for more and asked "oh my God, who are you?"

The first day he saw words form sentences with rhythm in the name of poetry was twenty long years ago. He was just ten and aunty Nifemi, a daughter to mother's friend spent a few days with them. She had a pink diary and he sneaked into her room to get a peek at its content, Just then, she walked in and asked him "do you want to learn how to write like that?" he screamed, “yes!” knowing he wanted not just her words, not just her handwriting but the magic he saw when he opened that diary was one he wanted to recreate. "Then take off your clothes, I'll teach you even more". The rest of the story with Aunty Nifemi is history, and history repeated itself all over again and again until mother's friend moved her family to South Africa.

Today, he sits here writing this book, a master of both arts creating magic with his pen and his penis, he has found the best way to deal with the accolades he got from the depth of pieces to shattering skirts into pieces slowly dumping the dead pieces of his heart in the moaning and the screaming. He placed a full stop at the end of the chapter just like he knew it was going to be the last time he was going to see her. By this time, she was fast asleep after he told her he won't be coming around for another round.

Aunty Nifemi is back in the country, and she's back with her eighteen year old fully grown daughter, her name is Pamela, he sees their picture together at the airport from few weeks ago while scrolling through the internet for his next catch. He reaches for a strange purse on his table, it belonged to the little girl he had just shown magic, her name was Pamela.

He jumped at once and tapped her hard enough till she sat up once again slowly lighting up her dim eyes.
The resemblance struck him, "oh my God, Who are you?"

    1. DOWN TO MY KNEES Moonlight


My friends tell me I recite the best vows

Rehearsing for when you will sweep me off my feet

And I will ring my skin with a sign of forever

The walk down the aisle is the beginning of a story I’ve heard often

Where we get to live happily ever after

Just before we get to leave for a time when sweetness is juiced at midnight

And the light of the sun stops being what makes the moon glow

More than anything, I look forward to rubbing honey on your moon

Same way I look forward to calling you granny with the cute grandkids


But I have fears the size of an Olympic pool

And the few times I tried to place my foot in

The cold water hasn’t exactly been soothing

So I ask you

Plead with you

If you love me too

Plant a kiss right on my forehead

And immediately I will sink down to my knees

Will you be my wife?

    1. PERFECT CUPCAKE Spotlight


Since you hit things off pretty well

You figured she’ll be like your mother

A woman who your prayers resembled

And your daydreams could relate to


That night when you spoke all through

You realized she was a broken vessel

And she might have ticked past time

Like an empty hourglass

Her shape didn’t seem to matter to you anymore


You compared her to a dirty basket

Holding enough water in her sunken eyelids

She was like a desert devoid of sunshine

A mirror reflection of a perfect world

When the mirror is placed upside down


And then you left her again

Like the man before you that caused her pain

If only you could see you in her own very eyes

Maybe then, you would have thought twice


You wanted a perfect cupcake

Unfortunately, they’ve all been served


October 10, 2017


I know, I know…

I know you don’t want to talk to me today since we hit things off pretty well last night only to change cloaks at midnight

The things I try to shed the spotlight on are dark secrets school books won’t teach

Best you learn now before being broken

Baby,

Are you listening or not?

Once broken, there might be no twice”

    1. BABY LISTEN OR NOT Daylight


The things we are most scared to tell you sit on our lips and their weights crack it

The things our eyes have seen lay heavily on our chest and your decisions might break it

We live in a world where kids aren't allowed to sit with elders so it looks like the elders don't talk much

Yet they tell you the elders can't be in the market watching the heads of babies turn

I wonder in fear who you'll learn from

If as a father I'm scared to tell you things

So for the longest, you could question what goes on between myself and your mother when the lights go off

And seek to find out for yourself in the arms of someone’s ill-begotten son

The things he will tell you are things you've not been trained to react to

And the places he will touch you would look like they've been waiting all along

So no matter how much I try to protect you

I can't keep you away from the rotten fruit of a strangers tongue

Especially if I've not laid root for the branches his saliva waters


We are scared to tell you that love has nothing to do with your skin

So if it gives you goose-bumps, it only means you are shivering

Our eyes have seen good things go wrong

So if it's been sweet for so long, it means you need to do right with the time you have left

Love doesn't seek to get beneath sheets

So the only right thing to do is called "leaving"

And let the story continue from how you left


Fear is a big morsel even adults aren't trained to swallow

But my dear, I'll spill my own blood if it will set you the right examples to follow

    1. PAINS, PENS OF A SIX YEAR OLD Sunlight


I'm not even sure we are lawfully wedded
But this has been a solemn matrimony


Dear cancer, how I wish you could speak
And hear how I feel too all in a sneak peek
Maybe you'll be able to explain why you chose me
A little girl that can barely breath, yet me!


Ever since that certain Sunday 
A man in white who claims he's not a man of God
Although clergy enough to pronounce us husband and wife 
The day after he cut me open with his knife, I have known no joy

Even your sickness has sickened my toys
I'm just a child, yet I can’t play 
I thought they said kids don’t pray
yet I pray silently every day that you find my body unworthy
But day in day out, you keep thriving and I lose living


Mother says I'm special
She says I'm one of those angels with broken wings
When I'm just someone that can't jump even when the choir sings
Her smile gives me a reason for my next breath
Regardless of how much tubes you try to get through me


I thought you loved just me, until I saw her
That woman you took one of her breast last year
She said you've come for the other one, you pervert of a thing
And then you lay me down, one of those your sessions
When you do all sorts with my body under bright lights
I’ve lived several days I can barely count as nights


I wish you could speak, so you can explain to my mom
That look on her face explains what the doctor meant by few months
And I'm just here mixing feelings with clay, a return to dust I long
Everyone tells me to be courageous and strong
They tell me heaven is the place where I’ll finally be free from your curse
Eventually like other marriages, death would have to do us part
And I'm the one dying


You've shaved off my hair again
the glory of the little woman I had that remained
Here I am, I'm running out of fight

    1. STICK SWEET Streetlight


Dear child,

When next I catch you

Holding up your shoulder like you got levers on

Twisting your neck to reveal the earrings you got on

Folding one of your arms close enough for it to curl

And making your face a fright fit enough to fall


I promise you

That I'll drag your behind through the thin door

Threaten to cane you with a thick rod

Shout at your mother to leave you and me to war

And then snatch that stick sweet making romance with your jaw


When next I catch you

Taking things from strangers

I won't do all these

I would do strange things

Now take money, go get papa his own stick sweet.

    1. OLOLUFE-NO PEACE Moonlight


The back and forth never stopped

Every day, her tempers flared up

Ololufe loved me though, that I knew

But every night, the fight was always about something new

She always had first-hand info

Who did I hug?

Who did I greet?

Who did I give a ride?

My Ololufe’s best friend was Olofofo

And no matter where I go, I just could never hide

Olofofo said this

Ololufe picks a fight

Olofofo mentioned kiss

Ololufe paints me black and white

Olofofo had no gist

Ololufe asks where I have been

“Ololufe mi, how come you were not seen?”

I had not done anything

Ololufe finds me hard to believe

She won’t eat, we won’t sleep

I didn’t do it, yet there’s no peace

Only Olofofo could get her back on her heels

To win back my Ololufe,

I had to give Olofofo new gist

    1. ONCE BROKEN, NO TWICE Spotlight


Love was not supposed to be like this

I solemnly replied

With shattered glasses on the floor

Broken pieces with sharp edges

The size that could pierce my heart


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