Listen | by Echezonachukwu Nduka

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That night I walked away from
Your queries and accusing eyes,
The flap-flap sound of my slippers
Played rhythms to the lone tone of
A toad in the dark;
I cried, paused, and cried some more.

My luggage is heavy with clothes and complaints
My new accent is penance for my sin in London’s winter.
It sits on my tongue in discomfort, like one sits
On a chair whose leg is broken and shaky.
And who knows, my forefather’s gods might have
Shed tears the size of Agulu Lake; vowing to twist
My tongue back to shapes of riddles and proverbs.

There’re more tales in the eyes
Of a lady I met in Leytonstone;
In the voice of a baritone for whom operas
Are bittersweet politics;
In the playfulness of a lad at Robin Hood School;
In the bottles of beer that formed affections in Stratford;
In the laughter of Kim Cheng whose English is Chinese;
In the mind of my professor during a minute of critical thinking;
And in the underground stations where music boards every train:

There’re more truths
In the politics of dying and survival;
In the way death commands attention;
In the nod of a lad whose yes means no;
In the anguish of a writer whose ink is dry;
In the bulala of a soldier whose love is cruel;
In Fela’s saxophone whose riffs are prophesies:

Listen to the belly of that child
Whose meals are stolen;
His yawns and tears are testifying:

Listen to the pains of a sister
Whose star cracked on the altar of rape;
Whose shame, names, blames are badges
For this terror that tears the soul;
Whose voice is shut when voices speak:

Listen to the anguish of a Grandpa
Whose pensions are paid in heaven;
Whose fruits of labour are laid
On the tables of men whose motorcades
And sirens stir more dusts that blind
The eyes of a people:

Listen to the breath of a brother
Whose shoes have walked a thousand miles
In search of a job that fetches a little or none,
His stories are no news in a land that lends no ear:

Listen to the silence of an uncle
Whose life is taken by the potholes that rule the highway
Whose death is one more name in the register of those
Whose martyrdom is a dent on a flag that forgets its own:

There’s a poem in the sound of nothing:


It is with this poem that Echezonachukwu Nduka emerged Winner of the Korea-Nigeria Poetry Feast Prize announced at the Korean Cultural Centre in Abuja, Nigeria, on World Poetry Day.
Watch video below:


About Author

Musicologist, Pianist & Poet. Apotheosis Art House. Bronze Prize Winner of the 4th Korea-Nigeria Poetry Feast. Reach him on


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