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Excerpt for Perceptions of a Past to Come by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

PERCEPTIONS OF A PAST TO COME  

collection of original poems 

By Ernest Antwi 

 

Copyright © Ernest Antwi – 2018 

Copyright Notice 

No part of this book may be reproduced, transmitted or stored in an information retrieval system in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, taping and recording, without prior written permission from the publisher  

 

DEDICATION 

This book is dedicated to the Department of English, University of Cape Coast, and all the staff, lecturers and students that have passed through her. It is also dedicated to the Department of Arts, Accra Academy, where it all began. 

 

***


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT 

I am immensely indebted to the great writer, Ayi Kwei Armah, distinguished author of the much celebrated THE BEAUTYFUL ONES ARE NOT YET BORN, as well as several other renowned works of literature, for his blunt critique of this work a few years ago. Never had I been so happy to be corrected and to embrace correction. The emails we exchanged are treasured, and his pieces of advice will stay with me forever.  

Furthermore, I reserve special mention for Michael Yamoah, Umar Farouk and Florence Laryea, née Ntsiful. We spent a few glorious years at the University of Cape Coast, and, together with our friends, who are too many to mention, we discoursed, analysed, defended and ridiculed nuances of English grammar and literature.  

My appreciation also goes to Mr Essel, and to Professors Kwadwo Opoku-Agyemang and Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, who inspired my entry into poetry writing.  

Lastly, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the late Mrs Beatrice Abla Lokko, a former Headteacher of Accra Academy, who, together with many other teachers, guided my forage into English Literature.  

 

***


INTRODUCTION 

Perceptions of a Past to Come is a cauldron of experiences, emotions, and incidents, which brutally decries religious charlatanism, political tyranny, sexual perverseness and social injustice. It ruffles one's perception of slavery, capitalism, justice, self-preservation, faith, and many more, projecting the current state of individualism and decadence as a direct result of the depravity of the human nature.  

This foreboding atmosphere is redeemed only with the introduction of concepts and interpretations of love, hope, perseverance, and the belief in oneself, and one’s unearthed abilities.  

Most of the poems were written within a Ghanaian context, and, as a result, they project the social, political, religious and economic landscape of the country in both the colonial and post-colonial eras. They discuss colonization and slavery; the uncertainties of the 1970s and 1980s amid forced restructuring of government; the period following the re-emergence of democracy, the rise of cultural, educational and social entrepreneurism; and the maturing of a free press in the 1990s.  

This notwithstanding, to accept the totality of this body of work, i.e. concepts, settings, imageries etc., in the literal sense would be to deprive yourself of the ability to conceptualise, re-interpret, re-imagine, debate and question ideologies and practices that transcend beyond the borders of the country.  

The use of Ghana is largely an extended metaphor, that represents developing countries in particular, but can be used to erode or confirm the perception of developed/western countries as either a façade or a true image respectively. Thus, those poems written while in the UK do not change much in tone, but in interpretation and description, challenging all to take a long inward look at their lives, societies and actions. 

 

***


Table of Contents

TITLE PAGE

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT 

INTRODUCTION 

THE GOVERNOR  

THE MEGALOMANIACS 

THE RIVER BETWEEN 

THE BLOOD DONATION 

HIGHER EDUCATION - GHANAIAN STYLE 

THE FORLORN TRAVELER  

GENTLE WAVE  

I KNOW WHAT HE DID 

COCOA 

DRY BONES 

DAILY BREAD 

NAMELESS  

TO CONSUME HIS OWN 

A PREACHER FOR SALE 

PEOPLE  

THE THING CALLED LOVE 

THE LONE MOURNER 

SCREAM IT 

SHANNA 

I DREAM 

HOW AKUA ABEBRESE LOST HER VIRGINITY 

IN A BURST OF ANGER 

MUTANTS 

OBSTINATE HARDNESS 

MAY 9, 2001  

RECONCILIATION 

WHO WILL SING OUR DIRGE  

SPOTS AND WRINKLE  

THE WELDING CEREMONY 

NONE BUT HIMSELF 

THE SONG OF MOSES 

THE S**T CARRIER  

GREAT HOPE 

A WAY DEAD AND BURIED  

THE SCARECROW  

PLEASURE AND PAIN 

I BELIEVE IN YOU AND ME 

REFLECTIONS  

WOES OF A WRITER 

THE PLEDGE  

PITIFUL 

NO KINGDOM SHOULD BE BUILT ON THE BACKS OF SLAVES 

TRIBUTE 

TO ARMAH 

VACANCY 

TOPSOIL 

I ONLY TOOK A PIECE OF THE NATIONAL CAKE 

HER HEART BELONGS TO ANOTHER 

TO A WOMAN PRETTY 

BOOKSTORE DRAMA 

INCEST 

MY KINGDOM, MY RULE 

THE LONE MOURNER RETURNS 

MADAM SNIPER 

ALL WE SHALL HAVE LEFT 

OF SOME AND OF LOVE  

B 13 AYIFUA ESTATE 

DEFIANCE 

TRUTH 

THE DEIFICATION OF KOFI BABONI 

IN SEARCH OF BLUEST EYES 

STILLNESS 

THE NATION’S PRIDE 

BELIEVE 

LULLA-DIRGE 

IN THE HEART OF A WOMAN 

TO LAYDI: LOVING YOU 

CONFUSION 

CONFUSION (PRINT VERSION) 

THE LOCAL WILDLIFE 

THE AUDITIONING  

BETRAYED  

HONEY ON HER MAT 

THE HUNCHBACKS 

A WINDOW INTO MY HEART 

NOT BY MAN 

HOW LONG?  

THE DROUGHT  

JUDAS TREE 

VICIOUS  

S.W.A.P. 

THE PRETENDER 

THE END  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 


THE GOVERNOR  

Above the dungeon  

Reclines the church, crowned  

By the governor’s residence 

His celestial palace  

Sitting like the symbol  

Of a monarch’s tyranny 

 

 He howls his hymns  

To the constant rhythm 

Of blood dripping staccato  

From the tips of whips  

To the gaping mouth 

Of the hard, cold floor  

Hymns inspired  

By the organ of  

Groans and moans  

That rumble feebly  

From the weeping eyes  

And gnashing teeth beneath 

 

 In the evening the governor  

He rides to his balcony 

Straight from the last meditation 

After fornicating with the greedy chiefs 

Those who watch the sparkle  

Of worthless glass beads 

Through poisonous bottles of cheap rum  

And sing, “Yes sir” 

 

 For entertainment  

He selects by fancy  

From the pool of slaves below 

The daintiest of slave-girls  

To prove he is a man, but still a man 

Somebody’s daughter 

Another’s wife 

Scrubbed sore and raw  

They are marched naked  

Far beyond the church to his lair 

Where he rapes them  

After saying grace 

 

 He carouses until the beginning of day 

Then rushes off naked  

For he cannot be late  

For the morning devotion  

Where he prays for strength  

Where he prays for wealth 

For full dungeons and fuller ships 

For family and pets across the ocean  

And for the best slave girl  

Or boy for the night 

 

***


THE MEGALOMANIACS 

On the feathers of Lucifer’s fall 

They ascend fast 

To slap the Eternal Craftsman  

With a scented glove 

In His own backyard 

 

 They ascend chest out 

Under glittering wooden crowns 

And cloaks of velvet 

A tapestry of human flesh 

 

 They challenge their gods 

With the duelist’s loose tongue  

And constipated facade 

Wearing self-imputed knighthoods 

And compete to outdo one and the other 

In the size and length  

Of names and letters 

 

 Their temples are filled  

With shrunken bodiless souls 

Scourged with a spiritual strike 

A choice  

Made for them by the fat collared ones 

Who rob  

The streets of heaven of cobblestone  

Who pinch  

Holes in the shrunken purses 

And where the last pesewa trickles out 

Demand a pound of flesh 

 

 These bodiless souls worship in awe 

The bejewelled deities before them 

Blinded from the The-Great-I-Am 

By a slithering forked tongue 

The sons of Midas forget  

That gold melts  

Where the fire burns hottest 

 

***


THE RIVER BETWEEN 

What shall I call you  

Dear sir 

This or that I don’t mind 

Man’s man  

Chameleon your name 

For it mirrors who you are 

And wax louder the bones 

That rattle in your body to be heard 

Go as thy heart leads 

Be true 

Don’t let the song in the bushes call 

 

 Two I know 

Dear sir 

Who despise secretly  

The swords that knighted them 

One wears the crow’s white throat 

Pure grunge underneath the strip 

The other the statesman’s hat  

Polished smooth in front 

Moth-eaten behind 

 

 One they hail  

The other they hallel 

One possesses the first serpent’s tongue 

And the other, Iago’s dutiful smile  

They stand reeling in their drunkenness 

Between them, the river runs deep 

Wine red with Egyptian plague  

With filed teeth, they take huge bites 

Of infantile feet, which look on 

With wordless soundless cries 

 

 Across the river  

A bridge of pregnant women 

Lying on their backs unshod 

They mount the bridge  

With the climber’s tool 

And change sides at the meeting point 

 

 On their backs  

They search the bodies of painted toes 

Which steal the sizzling fat  

From stomachs fighting undercover 

Wriggling their feet in childlike ecstasy  

The two scream, “look at me” 

Between them, the river runs deep 

With damnation fire 

 

***


THE BLOOD DONATION 

Those who have eaten well 

Have the power to draw blood 

And fill our veins  

With war and hunger and death 

They donate to us blood poisoned  

With the civilization of the bomb 

And the education  

Of empty pleading bowls 

Preaching to us a god white as clay 

Who created man on the sixth  

And the black man on the fifth 

Hiding from us  

The One without colour 

Who is all colours  

 

***


HIGHER EDUCATION - GHANAIAN STYLE 

He is neither here nor there 

Everywhere and yet, lost 

Just another ant in the great anthill 

Trained to pass the book 

Untrained to pass the world 

Soon,  

Soon he will be kicked off the force 

And still cannot answer, “Plans?”  

 

 He knows for the immediate he must 

Give his service to the motherland 

But he will come back  

Either as Aristotle’s pet 

Or maybe to a place  

Without rain or shine he will go 

To train the miserable larvae  

To become lost ants 

Or to join the chorus, “yes boss” 

Or to scamper up on foreign soil 

The torched lady with the spiked hat 

Chased by the American dream 

Washing washed bowels 

 

 Seed of Nkrumah hunchbacked  

Would your hunch were fronted 

That you would stand with some dignity  

But soon,  

Soon he will be kicked off the force 

And still cannot answer, “Plans?”  

 

 Three big anthills  

Smaller ones 

Training ants to eat the eggs  

And the red soil 

Higher education-Ghanaian style 

 

***


THE FORLORN TRAVELER  

The night is old and about to wither 

The sun threatens to slay the darkness 

The polygamous darkness  

And send a-scatter  

The evil spouses he harbours 

In the shadows of the confusion 

The Traveler stands 

On the aged brows of cloud-kissed rocks 

A last glance over his shoulder 

A village  

A shadow in the distance 

A shadow in a past to come 

Where Happiness evades him  

And knocks him down for dead 

Aurora, at last, sucks her thumb in sleep 

Sun wins the struggle  

And shouts wordless, “Victory!”  

With smiles that gild the earth 

And wash The Traveler's body in gold 

As though touched by that foolish king 

Who drools for things that glitter 

The shout of victory makes no peace 

His heart still pounds cold, slow 

No honey here! 

A woman at a door screams in his head 

 

 Dust for shoes  

Feet of Steel  

To defy the jagged rocks of earthly teeth 

Shirts with pockets many 

The maker will shake his head 

“I did not make those”, he will say 

A step and another 

Another and again for many a day 

No rainbow to bring a cheer 

No twitter in the land, no chirp 

The Traveler, blind, deaf 

But with eyes un-misted,  

And ears un-stoppered 

 

 Aged Night again withers  

Aurora again to bed she goes 

Sun rises from a sleep deep 

And splashes Earth with a painter’s oil 

Silhouette against the blazing light 

The Forlorn Traveler squats 

Between the breasts of rocks  

That caress the skies 

The painter’s oil touches not his skin 

The pockets in his shirts  

They are fewer but larger 

The maker will shake his head, twice 

“I did not make those,” he will say, twice 

Feet of steel weeps painful tears of wine  

Shoes grow newer with age 

His steps are few 

His strength is gone 

He knows not when he will fall 

But he goes on 

 

 A crawl and another 

Another and again for many a day 

No honey here! 

A woman at a door screams in his head 

 

***


GENTLE WAVE  

Gentle wave, blue as gold 

Lapping her feet, wagging his tail 

Kissing her toes making her smile 

Little child a month and four 

Screaming her glee 

Red-gold-black-green 

Creating figures in the sand 

With seashells of colours as hers 

To one she says, "repent" 

To another, "forgive" 

And to all 

"Love and care for seashells" 

Gentle wave, turning 

Savage wave, devouring her feet 

Biting her toes making her cry 

Little child a month and four 

Screaming her pain  

 

 He sucks her into his throat 

Belches, smacks his lips 

Little child  

Her drums are quiet 

She stares blindly  

At the bottom of the ocean 

The seashells weep  

Gentle wave lapping her body 

Washing her white  

Making her full  

The sun hides his face 

 

***


I KNOW WHAT HE DID 

A collared man dwarfed and ugly  

Who took an early bath  

In the pot of palm oil 

He bears the name of Philip’s son 

Un-mightily horsed,  

Cannot conquer his demons 

I know what he did  

Indeed I do 

Without a thread on his back 

He capered after her with a winning plea 

(Her prospective untangled himself) 

When his wife crossed the water 

Church bells, Sunday bells 

He howls and growls from the pulpit 

The audience applauds in awe 

But I know what he did  

My anger crouches 

Soon I may let my tongue fly 

So tell me, who is in charge? 

 

***


COCOA 

I saw the first seed bringer  

His feet rooted into the black soil 

His arms stretched in a tearful welcome 

Around his neck hangs bars of gold 

Metallic yellow and milky brown 

 

 The bleached fat foreigner  

He stuffs his belly with mangoes 

Some rotten and others plucked too soon 

Besides him his Interpreter stands 

In a jacket and the hangman’s noose 

“I will take you for a pound”, he sings 

“Take it or leave it”. 

The Interpreter, he interprets 

Tetteh Quarshie bows his head and nods 

***


DRY BONES 

They forget too soon 

That they were once 

A sea of Spartan bones 

Like Pausanias strong 

They bow  

To their Medism  

Their robes 

Sweep the ground  

Leaving thorns in their wake  

Despising the hope  

Swallowing the trust  

Like Anowa’s husband 

They corrupted their art 

Now they take and take and take 

The sunrise and the sunset 

Son of man 

Can this flesh live? 

Pray the black-robed prophet 

To take the sinew and the flesh 

With his gavel pound 

Pray the mighty wind 

To sleep the sleep of death  

That it shall be true to see 

A valley of dry bones 

Waiting in vain 

For flesh once again 

 

 They forget too soon 

That once they were  

Grains of sand 

Living on  

The Holy Kiss of life 

Perpetually 

Freely and graciously given 

Since the beginning 

Now the commission is corrupted 

They multiply and increase  

Leaving in their wake 

Desolate cities 

Empty wells 

Would the Potter 

Holds His divine breath 

Would the Word  

Holds His tongue 

That we may truly  

See them as they are 

Crumbling down in confusion 

Mere grains of sand 

 

 Perhaps they have  

Never from the scrolls read 

That once upon a creation 

They were 

Pieces of nothingness 

Gliding in emptiness 

They rape bloodily 

The land with the people 


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