Review : The Tongues Of A Shattered Sky by Tosin Gbogi
Book: The Tongues of a Shattered S-k-y
Publisher: Blackgraphics Book
Author: Tosin Gbogi
Reviewer: Rasaq Malik Gbolahan
Pages: 102 pages
First published: 2012
REVIEW – THE TONGUES OF A SHATTERED S-k-y BY TOSIN GBOGI.
JOURNEY TO NAY-TION OF REGAL -GIN
Apart from I am memory, a poetry collection by Jumoke Verissimo and Night of My Flight by Akeem Lasisi, Tosin Gbogi’s The Tongues of a Shattered S-k-y is another magnificent collection that extremely talks on “airegin” – “the nay-tion of regal gin”, the other way Gbogi re-constructs “Nigeria”, he alienates her, her life swindling, burning in the charcoal of broken memories of unseen pasts. Tongue of the shattered sky is poignantly written with great diction, each word hammering heavily on pains, agonies, desolate hearts of destitute, mourning a country filled with crying children, miscarriages of pregnancies and how history keeps repeating itself, how the same political “truants” keep staying at the upper seats and hunger-stricken masses are down waiting for hazy future. What a nay-tion of regal gin, intoxicant that perturbs the brains of our leaders, a nay-tion where bombs are play things, a nay-tion where robbers are friends of the citizen, a nay-tion where policemen are mid-night hunters, gunning down young minds because of money, a nay-tion where lies and truths reach compromise to withdraw the already burnt glories, ashes of loss still spread at the village square, on the streets. The readers can perceive it in Gbogi’s collection.
Divided into four parts, with each title turning obstinate ears to the speeches of looters and sassing the commands of those thieves at the feet of the fallen mountain, Gbogi critically talks about the sociopolitical vices and religious shenaniganism that plagues our regal-gin nay-tion.
The collection opens with “when the sun reaches orgasm, even the iron-coatedtortoise will sweat”as the prologue to first part.
The title of the poem that opens this section messages us the doom that awaits the blind Moses that keep sailing our already drowning ship. Gbogi refuses to be silenced. Starting from “the pledge next time (pg 18)” that opens the collection, something like promises, taking oaths to our so-called “airegin”, the one Gbogi mocks with his lines, he lampoons the leaders, the unpatriotic kinsmen. Gbogi puts on the attire of a warrior who is embarking on a dreadful adventure and who does not fear the consequences, in as much as his aims: to fight for the suffering masses and to chase away the cloudy hands writing our unseen future are realized.
I pledge to airegin my nay-tion/To be criminal, crooked and cun(t)ny/To rule this nation with/fire and force-/Do-or-die-/To be obdurate, desperate and hark-urate/god can hear if he cares.[ pg. ‘
It’s very dazzling the way he chooses his diction. He goes on to the next poems with a heart strikes with hate and pains but now at the verge of revenging. In another poem under this section titled “animal talks” (pg.21) which discusses the way, manner and method of electioneering in Nigeria, he stresses the way the so-called leaders organize elections, their “own” elections because they aren’t being mandated by our votes but with the help of their “god-fathers”; those who are stooges to the godfathers.
I know how ballot boxes are built/I award the contracts
I know how ballot papers are packed/I know my printers
I know “ewu” that grows on inec head/I appoint him … ewu” means grey-hairs. (Pg.22)
It goes on to admonishcitizenry to think of how to revive the soul of the nay-tion of “regal-gin”, the “degrading status” of our own “airegin” in the next poem titled “think of what you can do for airegin” (pg.23) .
Think townspeople/think com-patriots/think patriots
Think of how to build bridges with bamboo brooms/
Think of how to shame nepa with oguso lamps (Pg 23)
In another poem, “I am a beast”, comes out with a distinct voice that terrifies because of the way he describes the cruelty, massacres on the land of his birth, nay-tion of regal-gin. Gbogi’s voice in this poem symbolizes failing hopes. He is like someone who has been maimed, scourged by unseen whips, unseen hands, pierced by unseen arrows but now seeking revenge but in the hard way. He becomes fiery and it’s dangerous to dare him.
“I am a beast/Night shivers when I prance/I ate the placenta of death/I didn’t die/I chewed the memory of pain/I forgot the affricate of joy (pg. 31).
Pains already crawling in the hearts of many people; the readers are able to feel the agonies in these lines.
I eat the umbilical cords of newborn babies/they die before their first faint cries/what can their mothers do/than rile and buzz to every ear that cares to listen? (pg. 32)
The collection moves to the section of the poem titled “my command” (pg. 37) under which he paints how those vision less leaders promise to re-build “airegin’ within three terms, three terms of spending lavishly, catering for the needs of their families, sending them on tours to different countries, riding on limousine and leaving the poor masses alone to suffer. They are to carry the burdens of our wrecked histories under disgrace-full leaders.
To demolish this temple/and raise it in three days/to destroy this land/and re-build it within three terms (pg. 37).
This is in reference to our fake forecasters, meteorologists.
Another poem titled “I rule this country” (pg. 39) shows the high level of social decadence in the so-called airegin, nay-tion of regal-gin, extortion of money from masses by our religious leaders who parade the streets, asking for money from masses in order to appease God on their behalf. This even shows that not only the governments are involved in these dastardly acts; even the supposed purest in heart, spiritually inclined beings are also guilty of these sins.
I am the commander-in-thief/of the armed robbers/of the federal republic of airegin-regal-gin (pg.39)
Beware of those churches/where pastors confuse Agege bread/for the sacramental host. Of those fellowships/where parsons miss-take regal-gin for communion wine (pg.39).
In the second part, which opens under the title “even silence, if pushed to the walls, will whisper,” Gbogi continues the struggle; he never relents in silencing the echoing voices that clamp our bones in the custody of pains, aches that mock our groins. For example, in the poem titled “in a land where” (pg 55), Gbogi shows the anti-climax way of how things are arranged in this airegin, regal-gin nay-tion. He shows us how believers become pagans, of how lawyers turn to liars, of how rulers become thieves…
Liars become lawyers/what help does justice have/than the drab wing and gown/
Harlots become nurses/what healing is there for paying tithes (pg. 55)
Gbogi won’t stop bringing out pains in the other poems in this part and believe me, “I rose from a gutter of groans”(pg.60), a poem written after martin carter’s “icome from the nigger yard” brings in another identity of how this nay-tion turns to a nation of looters, of infants crying in the bellies of their mothers, of pains riding on the skulls of memories, Gbogi voices out that he wasn’t born with scars, we weren’t birthed, too with scars but we must adapt to it as we bear it in the course of our sojourning this wreaking nation, we get it from the passages of our gunned dreams.
I was not born with a scar on my soul/the world made it so/
I was not born with chains on my wrists/ footmarks of greed ordered-re the lines on my palms (pg. 60)
Now he goes again,
I rose from a gutter of groans/from the forge of firewood flames/and the streets filled with the groans of begging urchins (pg.60).
“Nothing compares with the emperor’s love (pg 63)” is another poem that won’t go without showing us other inconsistencies, crocodile promises of our so-called leaders. They that cure pains with prison threat, they cure madness with spitting out saliva, they search for darkness instead of moon, and they show us the future with scars of bullets on the sky’s surface. Gbogi tries to mock their senseless way of ruling, their crocodile love to us, how they intentionally wish us hell with warmth-water, they speak of visions but with blind eyes
“the emperor loves you/he gives us the promise of darkness/but with the assurance of a dead moon (Pg. 63).
The next part, part III, opens under the title “I may forget yesterday only if today fails to bring me the memo-ries of it.”Gbogi continues the“war”, his adventure to the land of “loot-ers”. “I am an ambulant minstrel” laments painfully on the uncertainty of dreams, of un-gathered hopes, of a minstrel with lost flute.
I sing of a demotic bar and parlour/of a quotidian pub and club (pg.70)
He moves on to
I sing of the dark/daffodils of death/dropped at every door (pg .70)
And to the end
I am an ambulant minstrel/I sing of gumption-less goons (pg. 70)
He continues with this song of battlements and bafflements throughout the poems in this part, in the poem“the undertakers” (pg 71)
“Morticians dancing with the casket of our dreams/throwing javelin of dis-cord into the perimeter of our peace/
“Rage on the street” (pg.73) is another poem that recounts the battered memories of the past, of past occurrences which still aches in the heart of the poetic persona.
Still on the same track of fighting for real-ized dreams and not hazy dreams, the final part opens under the title “tyranny only keeps the pages of history busy, it conquers nothing.” Gbogi sets to inscribe smiles on the faces of mourning mothers, on the frowned faces of sickening fathers, on the cheeks of hustlers who parade the streets without jobs, on the faces of children without hope for fruitful future. The poet turns into a seer in the last part by assuring us all that the loot-ers, dreams-breakers, assassins, blind Moses will go one day, they will leave this world and we will all rejoice again in unity, in what we know as “true democracy” and not backdoor democracy”.
In the poem “I do not dream of stones”(pg.81) “in thisvision I see/sonorants of smile/distend the dim-ples of a dying land/In this vision I see/the long hands of laughter/paint everywhere/a galaxy of dancing dreams(pg.81). Also in the poem titled “when the journey ends”
“I will be there/waiting for that day/when all longer legs and arms/are cut to match size of ours/when all these titles/Grand criminal of fool’s republic/shall be repealed” (pg.93)
And to the next lines
flung into a big rubbish site/flung far into big junkyards/where lunatics can grab them/ and take them home (pg. 93). “Nothing lasts forever” (pg. 97) and the final poem under the last part
“You may not see what I see”
When I look farther/what I see is not blood but blissI see holes petalled with hopes/hidden by the enameled smiles/of alluring morrows (p.g 101)
This assures us of dreams coming true, not in our graves but before we die, before these eyes dine with clay. Before veins die in vain, before strugglers die in the pit of un-remembered dust-bins, before lamentations die off in the silent lips of mourners, dreams will come true, future is bright I believe; a consolatory end to battered hearts, tomorrow is there to feature…
Gbogi is a poet, a poet with words, words with weight. He masters the art, he knows how to speak for his own people through art, he believes changes will come, one day, one day I repeat, we await the dream of dawn coming true. Poems indeed, they make you want to read more even if you are a sadist, you won’t mind crying if you read how he paints these cruelties in airegin, nay-tion of regal gin with “striking images”.
However, Gbogi keeps on criticizing the government “a prominent theme” throughout the collection and this makes it boring to me at a point, at least he should have infused two or three poems ruminating on other themes. Nevertheless, this collection speaks directly to our minds.