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Richard Ugbede Ali



Richard Ugbede Ali

Ali, born in Kano, Nigeria holds an LL.B in Civil Law. He has served as Editor, Sardauna Magazine [2004 - 2006], and is currently the Editor in Chief of the Sentinel Nigeria, a new online literary magazine, [www.sentinelnigeria.org]. He writes poetry and prose and is working on his first novel, The Place of Memories. He lives in Jos, Nigeria.


 Five Poems for Women

What is To Come

A long and lovely suicide;
The fall of Troy. Looking in your eyes
Now; and after.




If you gathered all my heartbeats within your gourd
It would not thunder as waves but simply sound a word
Hadeeza - it would sound your name, Hadeeza

The road has been long behind me, running, yet I've known
Moments when music was heard in a way to never be again
And Hadeeza - what I heard from the winds was; Hadeeza

Cursed brown sand beneath my toes, a yawn of sand behind me
If my heart ends here and the road stops, I would say, simply
Hadeeza – I loved you once, Hadeeza.



Ghazal li Farida

When word wizards ladle out tales of love
Let their lips linger on this lustre of pearls

Ishq rides the Sahara winds, smiting and blessing
As it wills - a grave for this man; to the other, pearls

The pulse of this racing breast tells what will come
I feel her breath in stray words, burnished like pearls

Wisdom is to not speak, it's the smile spread of Keba arms
Cast on Argungu, harvesting a dream of pearls

They who speak well of sweet flames let them be paid
The poet is worth his verse in gold and pearls

Sudanese skin dark as night, me, yet I know the moon
Will ascend here as stars merry in a dance of pearls

This spell was cast before earth was born, she will come
I breath: I, Ali, awaiting Farida, my eastern pearl.



Doondari's Daughter [or Fadimatu]

They seek to stop my violin; saying the gwogie
Is a woman’s plaything; but they don’t understand

Words of a farmhand, child of sun and seasons
Furrower of life from tricky fields who knows
The power of words and song, listening to keneri
Waiting for milkmaids bearing nono and strength

Doondari’s daughters arrive bearing gourds, hips swaying
To the chatter song of tobacco chewing lips while he plucks
Gwogie strings to one, the fair one with doe eyes
And many fears held down just beneath her face

He makes the strings speak like the cool waterfall
Surrounds her among her friends saying – heartbeats lie not
yar bokko, child of faith, have some in the truth of song
Dance, beloved, to my gwogie – give me your hand

He sings – and she, as a doe set to spring, pauses
While world and history around them wait to be made



Zouraine [or Sea]

There is something in the notes you cannot hear
I hear it, but all our similes are frayed, cannot
Convey it. But I could talk of the sea I hear

Not the sea of waves idyllic or as Ahab's temper
Not of experience like tears or love without end
Not thoughts of agelessness I think. Something else

A pebble on the seabed and the cool of histories
Lapping over it, and it completes the story of sea.
Beneath these notes, Zouraine, this is what is there.

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