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A Poem


17 Mar 2023

Poems by Kayode Adesimi Robbin-Coker
Kayode Adesimi Robbin-Coker is a graduate from Balliol College, Oxford, St John's College, Cambridge and Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone. He now lives in England.

An African abroad


(To the memory of Pius Adesanmi—Teacher, Writer, Patriot, Friend:

“So brief [his] presence—

Match-flare in wind’s breath -

so brief, with mirrors around me.”

                    - Christopher Okigbo, Heavensgate)

Wood powder, sand, a hen with five toes,

five chameleons, five hundred chains …


for us, exiled,

waiting is a torturing

isolated note, drumbeat repeating itself

so many times, in a minute that

the mind screams out for a context.


Such sadness, too – sadness which lurks

irresolutely, like a blind vulture on the

outer edge of an unfenced memory.

This twilight screen at least is mercy:  it fronts

a greying motif of cryptic embellishments,

tribal marks on my panic-stricken conscience.


There is something to fight for here, mind.

And we are better prepared for it now. Some will be

sent to flatter the old messiahs, persuade

them, perhaps, to crouch for group portraits.

I am to address the students.

Soyinka is, these days, a friend of my unsettled

affections: he is to guide me through the

First lacklustre phases –




fifteen days in the world

fifteen days in heaven.

(The secret, it appears, is to listen in sleep)

We are all invited to a love feast

down by the riverside, 16.30 BMT.  I slip

into a vacant illusion, hoping to stay out

of truth’s way till nightfall. But Mokewure,

Priest of goats knew exactly where to find me.

You should be gone, he chided.  It is not right

that destinies like yours and a star-crossed moon’s

should be sighing in tandem here, whilst across

those waters, in a medley of strange terrors

they are even now doing your people in.


Concede, a guilty heart suggests.

 Instead, I try my safety dance –

Sango did not hang himself.

Reality here is porous, like the clay of life.

Consciousness sleeps through it.

What one needs is not truth but an alibi.

My dreams have gone down with the measles

tell-tale specks of black anguish which

illustrate the futility of regret.

All I can do is brace myself for a crude

awakening and the onset of even darker blues.

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