Sunday, April 02, 2006

poem: his english is bad... by toni kan

His English Is Bad
Toni Kan

His English is bad
Sometimes. on good days
He sounded like a gun
That has lost it; completely

He used to come and go
My husband was his friend
They would sit and talk
Or my husband would speak
And he would mumble sounds
Disguised as words

Last week, my husband
Passed on, arrested so suddenly
By his weak heart,
So the doctors said

And yesterday, he came
And seeing him I dissolved
Into tears, recalling those nights
He spent with my husband
Laughing and pretending to talk

He came with words he had unmasked
He came bearing sympathy
He filched the words
Out of the pouch of his mind

“I’m sorry,” he said
“Take heart for the worst is yet to come.”
Faces turned to ashen masks
At the words spoken wrongly
But I laughed, my first in days.

Photo: L-R: Nnorom Azuonye, Toni Kan and Obemata @ Sentinel Poetry Live.

Toni Kan is an award winning poet and novelist. His novel, Ballad of Rage, was shortlisted for the 1st NLNG Nigerian Prize for Literature in 2004. 'His English Is Bad' is taken from his collection of poetry, When A Dream Lingers Too Long, Hybun Publishers, Lagos, 2002. Reproduced by permission