The man who wrote bad poetry

While walking by a cemetery one
cold-biting evening I saw an epitaph
on a tombstone that read: To the man
who wrote bad poetry—a life: unapologetic.

Because imagining was a price I
could afford, I stood there for
some time; the wind singing;
the cloud pregnant with threats.
I imagined in the cool evening,
when he was not in the kitchen
helping her to chop onions for
the yam sauce, he would sit by
the window—pen in hand; a smile
pillowed beneath his cheek; the
world naked before him—and
forest blank pages with bad poetry.
I also imagined that there were a few
peculiar things about this man;
he must have woken up many times
when the world snored herself away
to write a few lines; he must have read
his bad poetry aloud to her every night,
her head propped on his shoulder, the stars
dancing; twice, he must have been led
by bad poetry to the wilderness: that is
eighty days of fasting and being
tempted by good poetry.

An aside: somehow I imagined that
along the lines one of them died and the
other’s body became a revelation—into
something brittle.

As I walked away I imagined that they
loved themselves really hard and the
unapologetic truth in his bad poetry.

I imagined that they were
happy
and that made me
happy.

Othuke Umukoro is a poet & playwright. His demons have appeared in Brittle Paper, AfricanWriter.com, Ink In Thirds, Poetry Potion & elsewhere. His debut stage play Mortuary Encounters is forthcoming from Swift Publishers.

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