Genius Loci Of An African Twilight

Frederick J. Mayer

illustation by Frederick J. Mayer

Rain falling into jungle green,
pain calling forth in flora's scream,
eyes not so round staring
crys into mine, sharing
love's heart beat,
melted by heat
in lonesome jungle twilight dream.

I use to date and kiss frogs,
wet arousing cool skin
the sensuous long tongue,
pre-sexual awareness within...
Before death of lovers
I was found under sun
of scarlet blossoms bright
of flame tree in bloom night.

The Dark Butterfly alight
tree top, it utters lamentations
of a disease so painful -
Tree will always be crying,
Memories always lying,
Hearts are always sighing,
and Lovers always dying.

Moon in supplication
to Love's caressing fingers
of plants who know
past memories linger;
I'm embalmed within jungle womb.
But, I claw for birth's liberation...
Spirits' heart drip through sultry air,
merge; after rains scheme.
Dusk reveals upon flora fair,
bloody stains, blood "dream."

Before the steam
of rising dawn,
through the dreams
of forgotten gods,
are spirits' lasting scream
amidst jungle dark.
Primal hearts beat
to the sound,
that ears never meet,
of rhythms' pulsating ground,
as jungle twight
create the ever stream;
Lost Love's delight.

The rain touched wind
through the hearts it blows true;
Smell the fragrant purple flowers
of the frangipant tree -
as heat arising from Obokpa land
bringing an ancient peom to me.
Taken in living fur
a place, like Nigerian underworld,
the great tribe village Ibo.
There within old flame,
reality's fearsome mirror
in that no one is ever the same:
Wavering, my "ikinga,"
personal shrine, broken, lame
this man's life force,
his own "right hand."

Under the strange oil palm,
I sit and see the start
of a ritual ablution
Around the totem/shrine, udus,
thoras, and imperial drums sound
a startling complex rhythmic
that weaves spells
about the heart
like heat wisps
from fire hot who,
like lovely fingers, reach into

Voices of Iboland:
oko jo kpo io elo?
   (where is your heartbeat?)
oko jo kpo io elo?
   (where is your heartbeat?)
aki yo kpo io elo?
   (how does your heart beat?)
It touches like some mystic hand,
I stare deeply into majestic flame.
I speak too much about my shame.

Tribesmen dance masquerades,
Afikpo-Ibo masked ritual,
Nigerian twight ceases to fade.
Offerings on masks,
of egg shell's remnants,
Percussion pots and slit drums mingle
with making sacrifice and chants:
   "I have your face.
    You take mine,
    I'll take yours,
    And, see what we will find."

After village initiation,
the former world is not to be,
the totem changing to moonswift night,
bringing a deeper complicity.
This is the sanctification,
a totem beyond all taboo,
It's Ala,
great goddess of the Ibo,
earth mother, figure of fertility.
From rain trenched earth,
as image of a beautiful Ibo-Ukwu bronze,
She speaks melodically:
   "Flesh and fur are near of kin,
    once freed from thoughts
    of original sin."

Death-head snake comes from sacred fire,
Lady stands behind him as shadow,
she whispers, "Even shadows dream."
Flames as crimson as twilight start
to perspire,
as the darkness arrives like steam.
    I have lost it.

Still, in the night, there's hope.
Flame tree in night shaded hues
shades in tears flora and fauna
at rest upon dark evening slope.
Nok village fires a flame blue.

Twight jungle maze,
emotional haze,
pierced by lunar orb
and sorrows soon absorb
the peace of twilight's shadow.
Not all at rest, beasts of night
stalk the midnight fallow
where the shadows of memory
become solid luminaires.

Beasts at feast.
I lay alone and awake here,
now void of broken mirror's light
and lacking reflections' fear.

This was written in Nigeria, Africa. I was influence by Clark Ashton Smith's "Genius Loci" having picked up the Great Britain Panther version of collected stories on-route to Nigeria. The setting is Nigeria's delta area and the poem incorporates real experiences with dream, as well as, "spirits" of the area. Some of the areas mentioned still exist while others do not exist anymore (nor did they when I was in the area, they existed in the area's ancient past).

Top of Page