Tuesday Poem by Jekwu Ozoemene

The Used Tire Necklace

I happened upon the savaged body
Ravaged with stones, sticks, kicks and blows
Eyes bloody dimmed puddles of acute throes

With each blow, his arms and legs twitch
In response the cosmos screams;
‘I am someone’s father’
‘I am a hungry brother’
‘I am the death of what is left of us’
‘I am because I know I am’

‘I am not a thief’ he barely squeaks
Amidst the mocking baying of the frenzied hounds
‘Kill the pig!’ they howl
Cut his throat! Bash him in! Drink his blood’

Right on cue, cell-phones emerge
Costly status devices of the judge and the judged
A grime recording of the assize of the dying

Suddenly, to their horror, he launches from his rumps
A cornered wildcat, snarling savagely
(The beast in him challenging the beast in them)
A last-ditch dash across the busy road
Aiming for a maze of side streets, a possible labyrinth to home

The crowd heaves in pursuit
Demented creatures dancing and singing;

Catch am, catch am! Thief, thief, thief!
Catch am, catch am! Rogue, rogue, rogue!
Catch am, catch am! Robber, robber!
Catch am
Pull am
Get am
Keep am

Target acquired
Missiles launched
Bull’s-eyes announced by new splotches of bright crimson
The soon to be dead body totters briefly in a drunken bop
Cranium kisses the tarmac with a sickening thud
Motionless, he lies splayed
And I, helpless
Wish that the nightmarish sounds of the demented beast
No longer reach him, no longer touch him

Wey the petrol? Somebody whispers as if in a trance
(The voice so full of pride in his contribution to the dance)
Around his neck the necklace goes
Matchsticks! Lighter! Dementia roars!
Let him burn quickly, after all we aren’t savages someone howls…
His eyes flicker open, beholds the tire and sees his death
I weep as he shrugs of the wreath with his last breath
Again they beat him with sticks and stones
Again the garland returns to his prostrate neck

A splash of petrol, a sprout of fire
All that is left is the last wail of defiance
Then silence

Broken only by the sizzling of burning flesh
No more words, no more movements
Just the cackling flames
Then a forlorn voice asks
Wetin de man do sef?