(13th October 1961 / Accra, GHANA)

Banned Artist

I am glad you banned my books,
you made me a hero overnight -
till last year no one knew my name
today my name is being taken in
the same breath as Rushdie, Nasreen.

Publishers are a bit upset though,
the ban has actually done them in -
pumped good money into the printing,
but one feels happy for photo-copiers,
they also have a right to living.

Ah, you removed my poems from the school textbooks
they won't be reading them in classrooms anymore;
but yesterday while walking behind the dumping grounds
I think I heard those naked kids recite a few lines
from my banned poems - where did they pick up the lines?
from neighbourhood gossips? from the local fish market
or from local trains' chatter as they crossed the lines?

Nah, I was not happy when you first banned my books.
Now I don't mind at all, rather I am quietly grateful
for the little bit of fame you brought me overnight -
You don't mind a bit of fame, do you, if it comes free?

I know you will soon ban my pens, my shoes
my glasses, my pajamas, my little funny tools
with which I plied my trade, made my living.
Soon you will also ban them from doing
anything that I did - not to walk like me
talk like me, sing like me, whisper like me -
for my whispers are of the most suspicious kind
the kind of thing that fuels disturbances
earthquakes, hurricanes, blizzards, tsunamis.

It'll be a good thing if you also banned the sun,
the moon, the sky, the sea, the caged bird
and the free bird also of whom I have sung
for that will make people take more notice
of the sun, moon, the caged bird and free bird
of which world has become a bit forgetful lately.

     *******

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