Kamaldeen Arasi Moyosore: “Belphegor”


On sloth.


I thought of writing this poem in some Cs:
Canto as in Ezra Pound’s Cantos;
Canzone as in Daryl Hine’s Canzone;
Confessional as in Robert Lowell’s The Ghost;

But this is an experience that needs not a framework:
It needs to be written as if the experience is the only one.

At the morning, when the chewing stick is pointedly hanged on
The dirty floor of my tongue like a criminal dangling on a rope,
There was this woman whose voice has become a musician’s —
Like Eminem’s voice I can never be brave enough to forget its sounding;
But I think her son that I used to call an owl that slept when the unripe
Of the night is ripened by the darkness and awoke not in the prime of dawn,
Has a strong decoding brain that he frequently forgot her mother’s voice,
Especially when the night was out of the cage and the morn knocked brightly.

Whenever my ears are filled with the sourly stale discussions from school,
In front of the boy’s door, I unbuckled my shoelace without making meow
Like a hungry cat that leaped on our house roof every night; I unbuttoned my
Button-through school shirt even at the neck of his door, just to record with
My ears the new topic of the argumentative discussion between the motherson.
Their mouths seemed restless almost every moment in five years back;
Either meeting them on the talk of the school, room dirtiness, or home chores
Which I rarely heard of in the nonfunctional stories of my friends at school.

“To be widowed by knowledge and patriotism I thought it’s pride at least”
The woman would say whenever her son troubled her with his foolish saying:
“I thought he read and deciphered what foreign taught? Where is he now?”;
She used to call him Belphegor, the term that took me countless months
To assimilate its truest meaning. And when the woman smiled at him,
In her eyes reflected the soul of strictness and sympathy always lively.
Whenever she laughed with a drop of water strolling down the road of her
Cheek, her wetted dimples show but a picture of a boy drenched in tear days ahead.


This is part of Nigerian Voices Today, a 7-week series featuring young Nigerian poets, curated by Babatunde Babafemi. Check out Week 1, 2, 3, 4.

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