Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

Libations from Cape Coast

Libations from Cape Coast

By Kwadwo Opoku-Agyemang

Interlude 1: What the Sea Does

For Valika

Love of my lean years
My sword scatters your stars
The abyss looks back at me
Full with goodbyes:
What was if now is

On a cloudy day
The sky squeezes the cheer out of her hair
Her pain is pompous
Pilate washing the wrong hands
And after the harmattan
The sweating sleep comes
The rain washing its hands
Soiling the drought, afraid to commit

I will do with you
What the sea does with the shore
The harmattan with the dry skin
I will bend lean and course warm
I will be still and happy
The way you pause
Wise in the ways of love
I will rest with you, love of my lean years
The way dust settles in corners when tired

The night has fallen on my argument
Trumpet gone sour, arms fallen as in war
And the birds haven flown
Here I am spreading songs over the sunset
While strange hungers walk barefooted
Over bellies and judgement, counting the dead

I shall remember you as you are
Love of my lean years


Interlude II:  Memories of Ganvie

For Maame

There in salt-haunted Ganvie
They have soaked memory in water
And history walks on stilts
Above all wars

Do not feed the sea, no
Not if you wish to go home again
Not the skulls that fatten the bottom of our sea
Flood flee to Dahomey, Dahomey
Absurd ambition, when will I ever learn?

This is wine to witness my war
My sword has scattered the stars
Restless burden, earth and lore
Bare bones be the blight beneath my scars

We who stand under the waterfall to kill death
When did Anokye plant the sword of war?
Maiduguri, Abossey Okai, Abomey and Akuse
Adande, Adande! Ooh, Adande!
Do not feed hatred to the sea
Do not behead the deity for its brass
Do not sell the people for wine
Not for sale not for profit not for ever more
Blood is never vain, nor faint enough
The orphans came and went empty
And so did the past, his and hers
While blood flows in the ashes under our feast

We captured Timbuktu in wars without echo
Without print or pinch, neither warm nor woo
Addo left us, and so did the words to say goodbye
He went to Chicago, took the castle with him
There to meet his geography with the globes off
In the end it came to this
A palm tree climbed in sandals
A casket walking away to the grave
On the legs of six weeping men

And the prophet in us did not wonder
Whether we died or we cried
Are you safe, kind heart
Is some ghost chasing you, should we hide you?

The stool is superior to the king
Under the eyes of Dahomey
Do not cross Kpasse
Do not look to Xwegbaja
Do not go south to Ganvie
They have soaked memory in water
And history walks on stilts
Above all wars
Above all wars


Kwadwo Opoku-Agyemang

Kwadwo Opoku-Agyemang lives and works in Cape Coast, Ghana.  He is the founding patron of the Creative Writers’ Club at the University of Cape Coast. He has published three volumes of poetry and is looking to publish his first novel soon. He is also working with a colleague from Michigan on a new collection of unpublished poetry by the highly respected Ghanaian poet, Kwesi Brew.

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